- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The concern started from the blue-and-white faithful on March 7, 2012, and then trickled over to April 26, 2012, the day Indianapolis Colts selected their new franchise player. But the doubts are few and far between now despite the player responsible for making the Colts a must-see team during most of his 14 seasons doing the same thing almost 1,100 miles to the west in Denver for the undefeated Broncos.
Did owner Jim Irsay make the right call in releasing future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning to pave the way for Andrew Luck, the best quarterback taken No. 1 overall since, well, Manning in 1998?
With 22 NFL games under Luck's belt, there are strong opinions from some Colts fans -- via email and social media -- that they’ve moved on from Manning and are focusing strictly on Luck.
“If anything, watching the player Andrew Luck has become in just a season and a half, reinforces the decision the Colts made,” Heather Lloyd of Indianapolis wrote in an email to ESPN.com. “With Luck, sacrificing the present for the future wasn't much of a sacrifice at all. Call it strategy, fate, or just dumb luck, Andrew Luck landed right in our lap. Right when we needed him most. Painful as it was -- and still is -- I supported the Colts' decision to release Manning then. And I still do now."
League officials should box up the MVP trophy, put an address that reads “Peyton Manning, Denver, Co.,” on the outside of it and ship it to Manning now, because he’s on his way to his fifth award in that category. He’s thrown for 2,179 yards and 22 touchdowns, which is a league record through six games.
But it wasn’t about the present for the Colts. It was about planning for the future when they cut ties with the player who had Irsay choking up during the news conference announcing the move on March 7, 2012.
A neck injury kept Manning on the sideline the entire 2011 season and the Colts went 2-14. The front office did a poor job of having a quality backup quarterback in place in case something did happen to Manning.
Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz had the fan base wanting to run him out of the city because he was the first to write it was time for Manning and the Colts to part ways.
“The fans were angry and totally unbelieving that it was time to accept that Peyton had played his last game against the New York Jets in 2010,” Kravitz said. “They thought there was no way Irsay would let him go.”
The Colts would have been forced to spend a lot of money, crippling any possibility of upgrading the roster, on a player who some wondered if he would be able to regain his touch after four neck procedures.
“That team was getting older, with it showing on the field,” Lloyd added in the email. “With the salary cap implications of Manning, the Colts wouldn't have been able to sign the influx of young talent they wanted [and quite honestly needed] to be competitive.”
Manning agreed with Colts’ decision to select Luck. He told Irsay he’d be crazy not to select Luck with the No. 1 overall pick, according to USA Today.
The determining factor in an argument between Manning and Luck is age. Luck is 13 years Manning’s junior. The 37-year-old Manning is playing like he’s still got another five years in him, but time is against him.
Luck helped ease the pain of not seeing Manning on the field, around the city on different billboards and on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium, by leading the Colts to an 11-5 record and the playoffs last season. He passed for a rookie record 4,374 yards.
Luck’s only scratching the surface with his potential. He continues to distance himself from the other quarterbacks taken in the 2012 draft.
“I am of the belief we should honor Manning before the game because he helped this city get a new stadium, a Super Bowl and he’s still in our hearts, but the niceness stops as soon as the ball is kicked off,” Matt Schroeder wrote in an email. “Luck is our future now. We've got him for the next 12 to 15 years."
Here’s what other Colts fans had to say about the move: