2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Manning still has strong fan base in Indianapolis

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2014-01-31 13:46

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Peyton Manning still tugs on the heartstrings of Indianapolis football fans.

Friends and former teammates are happy he's made it back to the NFL's biggest stage, and the general public is excited to see if No. 18 can win a second Super Bowl ring this weekend, too.

Many in this town just wished this incredible season had come in Colts blue rather than Broncos orange.

''I think as fans of Peyton, people hoped he would stay with the same team and finish it out,'' said Jeff Saturday, Manning's longtime center. ''But that wasn't possible. Peyton wanted to still play. The Colts released him and that happens in our business. As a player, you have to move on to the next team and he's done what he's supposed to do.''

He's continued to win at a record-breaking rate.

Many in Indy never doubted Manning would continue to play at this high level - if he could get healthy.

But after missing the entire 2011 season to recover from a damaged nerve in his neck and facing a salary cap dilemma, Colts owner Jim Irsay made the toughest decision of his career - cutting ties with Manning and using the No. 1 draft pick to begin anew. Immediate reactions in Indy were mixed when Irsay tearfully tried to explain he wanted Manning to have another shot at the Super Bowl before his career ended, while the Colts were attempting to remain a Super Bowl contender for the next decade with a completely new cast.

So far, so good.

Since drafting Andrew Luck, the Colts have posted back-to-back 11-win seasons and reached the playoffs twice.

Manning, meanwhile, has posted two straight 13-win seasons, just completed perhaps the greatest regular season by any quarterback in league history and will make his third Super Bowl start Sunday in New York.

Indy fans aren't surprised by Manning's success, especially after watching him turn this basketball bastion into a football-friendly town.

''I think everyone is pulling for him,'' said Joe Gray, a 59-year-old Colts season ticket holder who was impressed by the standing ovation Manning got when he returned to Lucas Oil Stadium in October. ''I'm not saying I don't like Luck, I just wish Peyton was still here.''

Gray finds himself in a crowded group.

Even longtime friends, such as Saturday and former linebacker Gary Brackett, acknowledge it was tough to see Manning leave, though they're happy to see him playing well.

Some Indy football fans say they cheer for Manning first and the Colts second, which may explain why so many orange No. 18 jerseys - or some variation of them - have been seen around town the last two years. Manning has remained close to the community, too, returning each of the last two springs to host fundraisers for the children's hospital that bears his name. On Sunday, the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent is even planning a Super Bowl viewing party for patients and their families.

''We are fortunate to partner with a selfless individual who has given his time and resources off the field for the betterment of children and our overall community,'' said Vince Caponi, executive chairman of the hospital's board. ''Peyton has the highest respect for our health ministry, and values his time spent with its pediatric patients.''

But to those who know Manning best, this goes far deeper than rooting for an ex-teammate.

''My career is over, so now I can sit back and cheer for the guys I respect and he's definitely on top of that list,'' said Brackett, who served as Indy's defensive captain while Manning was the offensive captain.

Saturday concurs.

''He's a friend, so I'm always pulling for him that way. But to see a guy coming back from all the neck surgeries he's had, at 37, going to another team, going to a Super Bowl, it's fun to watch,'' Saturday said. ''Peyton Manning was everything you'd want our of a franchise quarterback while he was in Indy. He won the way you wanted to win. It was exactly what you wanted out of a franchise quarterback.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

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 ]

Kai ForbathApr 15 10:53p

Washington Redskins restricted free-agent PK Kai Forbath posted on social media Wednesday, April 15, that he has re-signed with the team. The club has not yet confirmed the signing.

George JohnsonApr 15 08:33a

Detroit Lions DE George Johnson was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, April 15. Tampa signed Johnson to an offer sheet that was disputed by Detroit, but the [ More ]

Philip RiversApr 15 12:13a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is under contract for one more season, and he has expressed a desire to play out his deal. However, the Chargers might be [ More ]

Josh GordyApr 14 06:03p

Free-agent CB Josh Gordy (Colts) signed a veteran minimum deal with the New York Giants Tuesday, April 14, according to a source.

Ricardo LocketteApr 14 05:23p

Seattle Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday, April 14.

Ike TaylorApr 14 09:32a

Free-agent CB Ike Taylor (Steelers) announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14.

Wade SmithApr 14 02:12a

Free-agent OG Wade Smith (Eagles) announced his retirement after 12 years in the National Football League.

Michael CrabtreeApr 14 01:13a

The Oakland Raiders are giving free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) a one-year, $3 million deal with another $2 million in incentives, a source said Monday, April 13.

Eben BrittonApr 14 01:03a

Free-agent OT Eben Britton (Bears) has been suspended four games by the NFL for an unspecified violation.

Matt ForteApr 13 08:02p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte was not present for the start of the offseason workouts Monday, April 13, according to sources. Forte is entering the final year of his [ More ]

Cody LatimerApr 13 08:02p

Denver Broncos WR Cody Latimer, who is expected to line up across from WR Demaryius Thomas in 2015, has been praised by WR Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to move [ More ]

Joe MaysApr 13 04:32p

Free-agent LB Joe Mays (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Monday, April 13.

Zackary BowmanApr 13 02:22p

Free-agent CB Zack Bowman (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Monday, April 13.

Sean RichardsonApr 13 02:02p

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson will remain with the Packers after the team decided to match the one-year, $2.55 million offer he signed with the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

Sean RichardsonApr 12 10:02a

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson signed an offer sheet with the Oakland Raiders, and the Packers have until Monday, April 13, to inform him if they [ More ]

Jason CampbellApr 12 07:02a

Free-agent QB Jason Campbell (Bengals) is considering retirement, according to sources close to the team. Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, including offers from [ More ]

James CaseyApr 11 01:02p

Free-agent TE James Casey (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Saturday, April 11. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnny ManzielApr 11 12:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has been released from his rehab facility.

Victor ButlerApr 10 03:22p

New York Giants LB Victor Butler has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Anthony SpencerApr 10 01:12p

Free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints Friday, April 10. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Charles TillmanApr 9 04:02p

Free-agent CB Charles Tillman (Bears) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Thursday, April 9. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rob HouslerApr 9 12:42p

Free-agent TE Rob Housler (Cardinals) has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Le'Veon BellApr 9 09:52a

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was suspended three games and fined an additional game check after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to league sources. He has appealed.

Stevan RidleyApr 8 07:53p

New York Jets RB Stevan Ridley signed a one-year deal with the team.

Amobi OkoyeApr 8 04:53p

Dallas Cowboys DT Amobi Okoye was released Wednesday, April 8.

Emmanuel LamurApr 8 03:43p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur officially re-signed Wednesday, April 8, to a one-year, $2.356 million deal.

Adrian PetersonApr 8 01:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is 'highly unlikely' to face more suspension from the league when he's finally off the Commissioner's Exempt List, according to a source. Peterson's next [ More ]

George JohnsonApr 7 10:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed restricted free-agent DE George Johnson (Lions) to a three-year offer sheet Tuesday, April 7. Financial terms are undisclosed. The Lions have five days to match the offer.

Le'Veon BellApr 7 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games of next season, according to sources. Bell is being suspended following an arrest last [ More ]

Erin HendersonApr 7 05:13p

Free-agent LB Erin Henderson (Vikings) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, April 7, according to a source. Henderson didn't play last year [ 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