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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Manning still heart and soul of Colts

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Peyton Manning takes time to sign autographs before the Titans-Colts game at LP Field on Sunday.
(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
NASHVILLE -- Former University of Tennessee star Peyton Manning's success on Sunday's has been heavily chronicled and rightfully so. He is after all, the face of the National Football League and it is by his absence this season that we are just now beginning to understand just what he has meant to the Indianapolis Colts franchise.

Since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, Manning has led Indianapolis to 11 double-digit winning seasons, 11 playoff appearances, eight division crowns, two AFC titles and a Super Bowl championship in 2006.

He had made 227 consecutive starts counting playoff games before a neck injury, requiring anterior fusion surgery which has sidelined him for what appears to be the entire 2011-2012 season. It was the third neck procedure in 19 months for the 35 year-old quarterback.

Along the way he has set NFL records for consecutive seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing and the most total seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing in a career. He also became the first QB in NFL history to lead his team to nine consecutive postseason berths (2002-2010).

Manning holds the sixth highest career passer rating (94.9) in NFL history and the highest single-season passer rating (121.1 in 2004). He is the all-time Colts franchise leader in career wins, career passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, and passing touchdowns.

He has been named the NFL Most Valuable Player four times.

Or as Manning, in disguise, for a Sprint commercial once said, "That guy's pretty good if you like...six-five, 230-pound quarterbacks with a laser arm."

The Colts made the playoffs in 2010. Their record this year without him? 0-8 after Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Titans at LP Field. They rank 30th in the league in total offense at 280 yards and 15 points per game after finishing 4th with 380 yards and averaging 27 points per contest in 2010.

I am a small-town sportswriter and I get no vote, but that dismal record just very well may be the impetus for Manning to set another NFL precedent -- the first player NOT to take a snap during the season to receive Most Valuable Player votes.

Yes, it is a facetious statement, written only half in jest, because I have a sneaky suspicion that knowledgeable fans and more than just a few scribes may very well concur.

If the definition of MVP is the player judged to be the most important to their team--how much more convincing would it take to get your vote?

Jimmy Jones is a sports writer for the Times-Gazette. Email him at jjones@t-g.com.

Jimmy Jones
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