The man responsible for Manning Mania in Colorado isn’t Peyton himself.
It’s Jim Irsay.
He is the Colts owner who chose to free Manning, the prototypical quarterback, in favor of drafting Andrew Luck, the prototypical quarterback prospect.
So if there’s one guy who should have our attention Sunday in Indianapolis — other than No. 18 — it’s Irsay.
With that in mind, color me surprised when I read Irsay’s comments to USA Today.
“We’ve changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these,” Irsay told USA Today, referring to his Super Bowl ring.
“(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.
“You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this.”
No, double wow.
This is an owner taking a shot at a quarterback. A blatant, over-the-top, defensive shot at his former quarterback. All the spin in the state of Indiana — and there’s a lot — can’t hide that.
This is the same owner who benefited quite handsomely from said quarterback. The same owner who brought a Super Bowl to Indy thanks to said quarterback. The same owner who rarely provided a proper defense to supplement the offense of said quarterback.
And the owner was frustrated?
I do think there’s something to Manning’s 9-11 playoff record. I’ve written that a few times. It’s a bad playoff record, not a fluke, even if he was awfully good in the frigid cold in his singular playoff game with the Broncos.
The decision to draft Luck instead of retaining Manning, who was in the midst of a serious medical dilemma, seems to me like a no-brainer — then and now.
But it’s stunning that Irsay chose this week to say he was “frustrated” with the Manning era. I’m not certain this is the kind of thing to say before Manning, the most influential athlete in the state of Indiana’s history, returns to the stadium he built.
I’m partial to Indianapolis. Having spent a lot of time there the past few years, I dig it the most.
But this was an odd thing to say. Odd timing to say it. Odd all around.