2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Manning's return causes dilemma in Indianapolis

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-17 14:53

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Jeff Saturday is torn.

It was here, in Indianapolis, where he got a legitimate chance to make an NFL roster. It was here he earned five Pro Bowl trips, won two AFC titles and a Super Bowl ring, and became one of the city's favorite players. It is here where he still lives and works, returning after one final NFL season in Green Bay, and it is here where he will always be known for snapping the ball to Peyton Manning.

Choosing sides for Sunday night's showdown between Manning's Broncos and his former team, the Colts, is a real struggle.

''There's a love for your home city because you want them to get the win,'' Saturday said. ''But my friendship with Peyton makes it tough.''

Saturday finds himself in good company this weekend as Indy prepares to welcome back the man who turned a basketball town into a football power.

In some ways, it's like Manning never left. The city's northwest side remains the home of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent. Manning returns each spring to host the hospital's biggest fundraiser.

Downtown there is Lucas Oil Stadium, the house built by Manning and a finalist to host its second Super Bowl. Indy's season-ticket waiting list is at about 8,000, a drastic improvement for a team that spent the first third of Manning's career trying to avoid blackouts almost on a weekly basis.

And there are still plenty of blue No. 18 jerseys at home games, some trimmed in Colts' white and others in Broncos' orange.

Fans here will likely revere Manning forever.

''He changed the culture of football in Indiana. This was such a basketball state for so many years, and the Colts were kind of an afterthought. Watching him go from a kid to who he is now, I just think it will be really neat (Sunday),'' said Dom Battinau, who played college football in Indy and now lives with his family in suburban Greenwood. ''The fact that we're blessed with Andrew Luck, I think, helps temper that (loss) a little bit. So you want to see him (Manning) throw for 400 yards and seven TDs and see the Colts win because I'm a Colts fan first.''

It's a common refrain in Indy even though some interpreted this week's comments from team owner Jim Irsay as a ''cheap shot.''

The truth is, Irsay understands exactly what Manning meant to this city and franchise, erasing the image of being a league-wide afterthought by making the Colts a perennial Super Bowl contender.

Manning understands, too, which is why he explained during his final news conference in Indy, in March 2012, that the decision to part ways with the Colts wasn't his or Irsay's. It was simply a perfect storm - Manning was due a $28 million bonus after missing the entire 2011 season with an almost unprecedented injury for a quarterback and Indy had the No. 1 pick and a chance to rebuild with the best quarterback prospect since Manning in 1998.

Fans who didn't want to see him go are eager to see him return.

''A lot of people still root for him, so I think there will be a big pro-Manning presence,'' said Gary Knight, a 43-year-old season-ticket holder since 1984. ''But I'd be surprised if there were any boos.''

Collegial reunions of this sort are a rarity in the NFL.

When Brett Favre returned to Green Bay, with the dreaded Minnesota Vikings, Packers fans felt betrayed. Few expect Manning to be treated rudely Sunday night.

Despite the brewing storm over Irsay's comments, which he first made months ago, even the Colts owner doesn't want to hear boos for what he has called the most beloved player in franchise history. A pregame tribute is planned.

''I think you know there's just so much love and affection for him, and when our players come back, we do a tribute on the big screen and stuff, so it's just going to be one of the most exciting and anticipated games in the history of the league and the history of our franchise,'' Irsay told The Associated Press before training camp. ''It's one of those dramatic, just sort of conflicted, anticipated games and I think that's what it's about in sports.''

Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, one of Manning's favorite targets in Indy, isn't conflicted at all. Neither are his teammates, who repeatedly said Wednesday they wouldn't treat Sunday's game as anything out of the ordinary.

''I'm just ready to play ball and get it over with,'' Wayne said Wednesday. ''It's like the Ringling Brothers, man.''

Perhaps nobody understands better than Saturday what to expect Sunday night.

A year ago, Saturday came back with the Packers - less than a week after the Colts announced coach Chuck Pagano would be out indefinitely after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Saturday wore a CHUCKSTRONG T-shirt during warm-ups, and then between the third and fourth quarters, his highlight reel played on the big screen. The fans roared with approval even though the Packers were leading 27-19 at the time.

''I watched it, and it meant a lot to me,'' Saturday said. ''What I remember most was that (Packers coach) Mike McCarthy came up to me the Monday after the game and said, `That's one of the best, if not the best, tributes I've ever seen for a player and how much class the city of Indianapolis has.' He said, `Even though we lost, hold onto that moment.'''

Now it will be Manning's turn to be honored. Saturday, who will be on the opposing sideline, will be cheering for the Colts, the team that employs him, and at the same time his close buddy Manning.

''I think you'll definitely see a ton of 18s in the crowd, and there will be a lot of Denver 18s and Indianapolis 18s and he deserves that. He's earned it,'' Saturday said. ''But I think Indianapolis Colts fans definitely want the Colts to win, no matter what.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Adrian PetersonApr 23 05:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson may not be in the Dallas Cowboys' plans after all, according Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Robinson said the Cowboys have not spoken to the Vikings regarding Peterson.

Demaryius ThomasApr 23 03:32p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas has decided not to participate in offseason workouts because he does not want to suffer an injury, but general manager John Elway does not [ More ]

Will HillApr 23 03:12p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent FS Will Hill signed his tender offer Thursday, April 23, according to sources. Hill received a one-year deal worth $1.54 million.

Andre EllingtonApr 23 03:02p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington's (foot) injured foot is about 95 percent healed, and Ellington has not suffered any setbacks, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

M. Jones-DrewApr 23 02:22p

Free-agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Raiders) will sign a one-day deal to retire as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars next Tuesday, April 28. He played nine seasons and rushed [ More ]

Victor CruzApr 23 02:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) said he believes that he will be ready to play in the season opener next season and play like he did before he suffered the injury.

Justin TuckerApr 23 01:52p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent PK Justin Tucker has signed his one-year tender offer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bear PascoeApr 23 12:52p

Free-agent TE Bear Pascoe (Falcons) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Thursday, April 23. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sam BradfordApr 23 01:53a

The Philadelphia Eagles and QB Sam Bradford have yet to make significant progress on a contract extension sparking speculation the quarterback might be traded again, although head coach Chip [ More ]

Brandin CooksApr 22 11:43p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandin Cooks (knee) spent time training together with QB Drew Brees during the offseason in San Diego. 'Man, I love everything about him, his makeup, [ More ]

Greg JenningsApr 22 06:13p

Free-agent WR Greg Jennings (Vikings) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Philip RiversApr 22 05:33p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers may be losing faith in the organization, according to NFL Network analyst and former Chargers' RB LaDainian Tomlinson. 'The parts around him keep [ More ]

Jacques McClendonApr 22 04:13p

Free-agent OG Jacques McClendon (Jaguars) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Adrian PetersonApr 22 02:23p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not expected to be traded by the Vikings unless the team is overwhelmed by an offer from another team, according to a source. [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 22 02:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown said he is not participating in voluntary workouts because he is spending time with his newborn child. Brown said he will report to offseason [ More ]

Marvin LewisApr 22 11:33a

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis signed a one-year extension Wednesday, April 22. He's under contract through the 2016 season.

S. RichardsonApr 21 05:23p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Shaquille Richardson (undisclosed) was released Tuesday, April 21, with a failure to disclose physical condition designation.

Adrian PetersonApr 21 01:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains a candidate to be traded, and a source close to the situation believes that if he isn't traded before or during the 2015 [ More ]

Dennis PittaApr 20 06:52p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) is participating in the team's voluntary conditioning program that started Monday, April 20. Pitta's career remains in doubt after fracturing his right hip [ More ]

Prince AmukamaraApr 20 05:22p

New York Giants CB Prince Amukamara (biceps) said he's about 90% recovered from a torn biceps he suffered last season.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 05:02p

Updating a previous item, free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) signed a contract to officially retire with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tim TebowApr 20 03:52p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) officially signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 20 01:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not in attendance for the start of the team's offseason workout program Monday, April 20, according to league sources. However, Peterson hasn't attended [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 20 11:02a

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is seeking a new contract and could hold out from minicamps and training camp, according to sources.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 07:22a

Free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) is expected to retire Monday, April 20, and join the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff. The Cardinals, the team Wilson played for from 2001-2012, have announced a press conference.

Tim TebowApr 19 07:42p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) is expected to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20.

Stefen WisniewskiApr 18 01:02p

Free-agent C Stefen Wisniewski (Raiders) signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday, April 18. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Ryan JensenApr 17 05:02p

Baltimore Ravens exclusive rights free-agent TE Phillip Supernaw, SS Brynden Trawick, CB Rashaan Melvin and OT Ryan Jensen re-signed with the team Friday, April 17. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 17 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said earlier this week that he's not sure if he'll participate in the team's offseason program. Minnesota is set to start their offseason workouts [ More ]

Adrian PetersonApr 16 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will not receive any further suspension after he is reinstated from the commissioner's exempt list, according to a source.

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group