This week shall be remembered by Colts fans for generations. In the course of a few days the Colts released Peyton Manning along with a host of truly Classic Colts. Likewise, it appears several key free agents will be allowed to walk or retire and Dwight Freeney may even be traded. While some moves were expected, the tumultuous and sudden departure from a roster that won ten games two years ago and had championship aspirations before Manning’s injury is jarring.
To say fans are excited about this “new era” promised by owner Jim Irsay and new General Manager Ryan Grigson would be misleading. Hoosiers are too civil and understated to bring the torches and pitchforks, but the front office should expect little patience from a fan base that expects to win with class. They honor and love their heroes to the point of preferring heritage, pride and loyalty to winning. It’s the “class” part of winning with class that drives this state.
The owner of the Blue Crew Bar and Grill says it’s now more like a museum, a restaurant filled with football relics. The jerseys that hang on the walls are suddenly throwbacks.
“I’m gonna have to redecorate the place now,” said owner Randy Collins. “I got Brackett up here. I got Clark up here. I’m going to take a lot of them down soon”
Five fan favorites, were all cut by the Colts Friday: Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Curtis Painter. It all comes as fans are still in mourning over Peyton Manning’s departure.
The story reminded me of a Colts away game shortly after Melvin Bullitt’s emergence. Bob Sanders was once again lost for the season and Bullitt’s fill-in performance had some younger fans excited enough to have Bullitt jerseys made. I spotted them during pre-game and wandered over to speak with them and to get a few shots. While talking to the teens about their love for a backup defensive back a woman approached me and explained she worked with Melvin’s agent. She too had spotted them and wanted to get the story as Melvin hoped to meet them. It was memorable, not because Bullitt was a great player. Rather, he played with class.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with my now classic jerseys–none of them were as cool as those custom Melvin Bullitt jerseys–but I don’t think I can wear them again. I feel like preserving them in some way, frozen in time like the memories I have of those wonderful seasons they shared with us as fans. The idea of never seeing these men in a Colts uniform again came too soon. Perhaps in a few years when I break them out I’ll feel the same rush I had when I wore them on game day and they took the field.