What Should the Colts Do with Peyton Manning?
by Matt Hundley | University of Missouri
The college football season is almost over, with only bowl games remaining for each school and its players. This means that all the top prospects have only one more chance to shine before the draft process begins. For one prospect this doesn’t matter, however. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is the consensus number one pick for this season’s NFL Draft, and there really isn’t anything the star quarterback can do to make anyone think any differently. Luck is one of the best pro prospects to come up in recent seasons, and some experts say that the quarterback may be the most ready any player has been in league history.
And so began the “Suck for Luck” campaign. The question at this season’s outset was: which team will be the lucky loser to get the number one overall pick and obtain Luck’s services come draft time? With three weeks remaining in the NFL season, the race for the number one overall pick is, for all intents and purpose, decided. The Indianapolis Colts have yet to get a win this season at 0-13, and it doesn’t look like they will get that victory anytime soon. This means that the Colts will get the number one pick in this season’s draft, will likely snatch Luck, and the quarterback will be on his way to play in colder weather. The only problem: Indianapolis has a star quarterback of its own, Peyton Manning, that will be ready to play next season after missing this entire year with a neck injury. So, what should the Colts do about Peyton Manning? Should they keep him or trade him away and let Luck prove why he is the best prospect to ever enter the NFL?
What the Colts should do is keep Peyton Manning on the team and let him lead the Colts next season. Manning’s injury this season has proven how valuable he really is to this team. Last year behind Manning at quarterback, the Colts finished 10-6, winning the AFC South and making the playoffs. This season with basically the same exact cast with the exception of Manning, the team has yet to get a win. The tremendous turnaround between these two seasons proves that Peyton Manning means everything to the Colts. They are a playoff team with Manning in the lineup and barely even a team with him out. Peyton Manning is a future Hall of Famer. The man has thrown for 399 touchdowns in his career and for 54,828 yards. He has won one Superbowl in Indianapolis, four MVP awards, and made the Pro Bowl 11 times. There aren’t many quarterbacks who have had a better career than Manning, and it can certainly be argued that none has had a bigger impact on his team. Plenty of “can’t miss” prospects have entered in the NFL, but few have turned into a sure thing Hall of Famer like Manning has.
This doesn’t mean that the Colts shouldn’t draft Andrew Luck, however. Indianapolis would be crazy not to take Luck; he might be the best prospect in NFL history. The Colts should pick Luck with the number one pick in the draft and let him learn the ways of the NFL behind Manning in Indy, just like the situation in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers drafted Rodgers in 2005, knowing that they had a Hall of Famer at quarterback in Brett Favre. Rodgers spent three seasons behind Favre in Green Bay learning the ways of the NFL without the pressure of having to win right away. When Favre left the Packers in 2008, Rodgers had the knowledge needed to lead an NFL offense. This valuable experience has ostensibly benefited Rodgers on the field. The quarterback already has one Superbowl victory and is the surefire MVP of the league this season.
Indianapolis needs to take the Rodgers approach with Andrew Luck. The Colts should keep Peyton Manning as their starting quarterback and let Luck learn from the bench from one of the greatest ever to play the game. Then, when Manning retires in a couple of years, Luck will take over, and Indianapolis won’t miss a step. Playing Luck now would be a mistake. The Colts should keep Manning not just to be successful now, but to be successful in the future as well.Matt Hundley is a NGJ Sports Correspondent and a student at the University of Missouri. He is interested in pursuing a sports journalism career.