“He said, ‘You’ve got to take Andrew, ‘” Irsay recalls during an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “‘You have to. You’re crazy if you don’t. ‘”
The Colts indeed drafted Luck with the No . one overall pick last year after launching Manning, who hitched on with the Denver Broncos and John Elway and is well-positioned for a second Super Bowl title.
Now Manning’s road to the Super Bowl stops in Indianapolis, where he will bring the undefeated Broncos into Lucas Oil Stadium for a Sunday evening showdown against the AFC South-leading Colts, who also have aspirations of playing in February.
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“I think is actually perfect, ” Irsay says. “What’s happened is what Peyton and I hoped would happen. The desire was regarding him to get well and get to some team that has a chance to win one more Super Bowl before his career ended. And our desire was to be able to transition to Andrew. To be so good so soon is stunning. ”
Irsay barely wants to be known as the man who have ran Manning out of Indy, great team’s progress under second-year common manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano lessens any criticism — even while Manning flourishes with the Broncos, with a league-leading 22 landing passes and 2, 179 yards.
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There is way the Colts could have flushed up on the chance to take Luck (or Robert Griffin III, if they preferred) and secure a franchise quarterback for perhaps the next 15 yrs. Think of how many teams have spent decades trying to land that important piece. The Colts are so lucky to have landed one right after another.
In retrospect, using a rookie salary cap in perform, perhaps the Colts could have drafted Fortune and allowed him to develop gradually under Manning?
Absolutely no way that could have worked, Irsay insists.
Think of the supporting ensemble and the new strategical direction the particular team has taken — with energy rushing and a 3-4 defense included — in its post-Peyton incarnation.
“Circumstances created this decision, ” Irsay says. “You have to understand there’s no way this takes place if he’s in Indy. It has the just impossible, where our salary cap was. Having him stay at the type of number that he anticipated and deserved to earn and all those things. ”
Manning was due a $28 mil bonus if he stayed with the particular Colts but instead was cut reduce and signed with the Broncos regarding five years and $96million, of which $58 million was guaranteed. Their 2013 cap figure: $17. 5million.
Luck, restricted by rookie cap, counts just $5. 025 million against the cap this year, the low number allowing so many various other roster-building moves.
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Yet there are a few other numbers Irsay mentions that really hit home in processing the particular transition.
“We’ve transformed our model a little bit, because all of us wanted more than one of these, ” Irsay says, flicking up his right hand to show his Super Bowl XLI championship ring.
“(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these, ” Irsay adds. “Pittsburgh experienced two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we experienced one. That leaves you frustrated.
“You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re away in the first round seven from 11 times. You love to have the ‘Star Wars’ numbers from Peyton plus Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this. ”
Then Irsay flicks upward his right hand again.
Make no mistake. Irsay truly appreciates how Manning place his franchise back on the chart, triggering a run of success — Indy won at least twelve games in seven consecutive seasons — that even contributed towards the plush new stadium that has currently hosted one Super Bowl and is in the running for another.
Yet Irsay sounds like he’s harm to have just the one ring.
In outlining the objective to Grigson and Pagano, he says, he demanded that they build a well-rounded team, with the offense supported by outstanding special teams and a reliable defense.
Then he includes a flashback to a moment late within the 2006 season, when the Colts defense was shredded for 375 rushing yards by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“We were schizophrenic, ” Irsay says. “I walked into the locker room, and Bill Polian comes up to me. He says, ‘It’s over. ‘
“‘What are you talking about? We’re in the playoffs. It can not be over. ‘
“‘Too many injuries. It’s over. ‘
“Tony Dungy was like, ‘It’s not over. We can repair this thing. ‘
“In the playoffs, we went the ball, we stopped the particular run. That’s what won us the Super Bowl. But we were Jekyll-and-Hyde schizophrenic.
“In looking at, again, how to build this thing, you really focus in. ”
So the centerpiece of Indianapolis’ past will get a glimpse of the future Sunday night, with the team planning to honor Manning with a pregame tribute.
Irsay will lead the particular welcoming party, but clearly he’s no regrets.
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