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Manning Injury A Blessing For Colts

The Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts are really bad.  I mean, really bad.  Despite the glorious sun-kissed locks, the face of mediocrity himself Curtis Painter has yet to guide this team to a single victory.  They’re without a win on the year in what is a disaster of a season.  Yet, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the fact that this quarterback, who had started 277 consecutive games, has been forced to miss probably all of the season with a neck condition that required two surgeries is a blessing in disguise (go ahead and re-read that.  I know that was a bit convoluted but I needed to get in all of those facts – it’s opinion from here on out!).  The Colts have been given the unique opportunity to be set for next fifteen years at the most important position in sports.

Anyone who has experienced the distinct pain of watching Kyle Boller, Tarvaris Jackson or maybe even Ryan Leaf for the fifteen minutes he played in the league, knows the irrefutable importance of the quarterback position.  You can’t win without one.  But you can be comically awful for decades without one – just ask the post-Marino Dolphins.  A quality quarterback is without a doubt the single most important commodity in sports.  They are your franchise.

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

For the past decade and a half Peyton Manning has been the Colts franchise. He’s been the quarterback, play caller, offensive coordinator and was probably operations manager for a brief spot.  I have no way to confirm that but you get my point, dude is the Colts. However, the Colts entered this season at a bit of a crossroads.  Many were predicting a swoon for the team that had dominated the regular season for almost all of Manning’s NFL tenure.  They were a team getting older and less skilled, readying themselves for another season of battling rising, youthful squads like the Rubik’s Cube personified Houston Texans.

Even Peyton Manning himself was getting old.  The quarterback has been around for nearly fifteen years and is a rather stately 35 years of age.  No one thought the prolific passer was long for this league, even before the pair of neck surgeries.  Surely owner Jim Irsay and Colt fans had to be wondering, where will this organization go post-Manning?  Well, as Manning sits out and the organization circles the drain they’re getting closer to the answer…Andrew. Luck.

The Stanford quarterback has been heralded as a can’t miss prospect, a definite star in the NFL.  And while yes, we’ve heard claims like this wasted on the Ryan Leaf’s of the world, everything says that this kid will be the next, well…Peyton Manning.  Everyone believes that he is worth the disaster of a season that it would take to acquire the first overall pick that secures his rights, which is exactly why this Manning injury couldn’t have come at a better time.  Let me paint a word picture for you.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Picture this.  The Colts continue to be the unwatchable, dumpster-fire that they are.  They win maybe one game all season and end up beating out the Rams and Dolphins for the privilege of the first overall pick.  Predictably, because they’re not run by Matt Millen (sorry Matt), the Colts select Mr. Luck first overall.  Luck is then afforded a luxury that many young quarterbacks aren’t in the present NFL  He sits.  He sits and he learns.  He learns that this is not the Pac-10 (looking at you Matt Leinart).  He learns how to be a leader in this league (looking at you Ryan Leaf).  He learns how to quarterback in this league (JaMarcus Russell).  Then, when he is ready, when Manning is ready to step aside, he steps into a great organization and an excellent support system.

It’s the move patented by Aaron Rodgers – sit behind the legend, learn from the legend, step in for the legend, make people forget about the legend.  Much has been made about wether it is right to “Suck for Luck.”  Well for the Colts, I believe the choice is easy.  Suck, and suck huge.  Indianapolis has the chance to acquire two once in a life-time quarterback talents in the span of fourteen years.  There’s a real chance that twenty years from now we could be looking back on the fact that the Colts enjoyed a period of quarterback glory that has been unseen by the league in its history.  Yes, Luck could be a miss.  He could be Ryan Leaf.  But it’s not like a Super Bowl run is within these Colts, so what’s the down side?  Think about this.  What if he’s not Ryan Leaf?  What if he’s Peyton Manning?  What if he’s better?

@JoeBianchino

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