Commentary: End of an era

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I was a Colts fan before Peyton Manning came to town.

I wasn’t a fan when the Colts were in Baltimore, of course, or even when they first came to Indianapolis. It wasn’t until I went to college that I really became a fan.

And I can pinpoint the moment when I started actively rooting for the Colts. Oct. 25, 1992, the Colts in Miami to face the undefeated Dolphins. Indy’s up 24-20, but Dan Marino’s driving the Dolphins down the field.

Then Steve Emtman, of all people, intercepts Marino at the Miami 10 and rambles 90 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.

I was hooked.

There were some bright moments over the next few seasons — playoffs in ’95 and ’96, including a spot in the AFC Championship game — and plenty of not-so-bright moments — losing seasons in ’93 and ’97, Aaron Bailey letting Jim Harbaugh’s Hail Mary pass fall to the turf in that AFC title game loss at Pittsburgh.

Then the Colts drafted Manning in ’98 and slowly but surely, the Colts went from one of the NFL’s also-rans to a perpetual contender.

There were still challenging moments as a fan. The Colts couldn’t beat New England. The best record in the league in 2005 and still losing in the first playoff game.

And the AFC title game after the 2006 season, hosting the Patriots. When the Colts fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter, I was so pissed I turned off the TV. What can I say, I was hot-tempered when I was a youngster.

But in the third quarter, I turned the radio on to hear how much more worse it had gone. A Manning TD run and a TD pass from Manning to Dan Klecko, and a 2-point conversion pass from Manning to Marvin Harrison, and suddenly it was a game again.

Back to the TV.

And when Marlin Jackson sealed the comeback 38-34 win with an interception in the final seconds, sending the Colts to the Super Bowl, I was ecstatic. Two weeks later, the Colts were Super Bowl champions, and life was good.

Now, would it have been nice for the Colts to win another Super Bowl or three? Of course. But I’ll take what we as fans did get: a Hall of Fame career from a QB who at least projected the notion that he was a good guy.

If, indeed, today’s press conference is to now announce that Manning is leaving the Colts, this is a sad day. I had hoped that Manning would have spent his entire career with the Colts, and with his neck injuries, my uneducated opinion is that he should just retire rather than risk permanent injury.

But it’s his decision, of course. All I have left to say is this: Thank you, Mike Tahoe. Thank you.

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