Colts will pay tribute to Peyton Manning at Oct. 20 game
When Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis in 11 days for a prime-time showdown against his former team, he can expect a hero’s welcome at Lucas Oil Stadium.
And that will include a gracious reception from the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are planning a tribute for Manning to acknowledge his remarkable contributions during 14 seasons with the franchise, team owner Jim Irsay told USA TODAY Sports.
Details — including the extent of the tribute, which will likely occur during pregame festivities for the nationally-televised Sunday night game — are still being finalized.
“We’re going to have a great tribute to him,” Irsay said while in Washington for NFL owners meetings. “It’s going to be something where you go into it wanting to have a lot of fun, where you love Peyton as a Colt fan, but now we’re competing against him.”
The game would have been big enough simply with the Denver Broncos quarterback, a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, returning to face his former team.
Yet the game has added value, given the success of the respective franchises.
It could be a preview of the AFC Championship Game.
With Manning off to the best start of his career, the Broncos (5-0) head into Sunday’s game against the Jaguars as overwhelming favorites to remain unbeaten. The Colts (4-1), with second-year franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, lead the AFC South and are a legitimate contender as they play at San Diego on Monday night.
“For this one day, we’re competitors,” Irsay said. “You look for a great game and that’s the main thing.”
Paying tribute to an opponent comes with an element of risk.
The Philadelphia Eagles paid homage to former coach Andy Reid when he returned with the Kansas City Chiefs for a Thursday night game in Week 3, and the video tribute and standing ovation set the tone for a huge Kansas City victory.
Nonetheless, Irsay said that a tribute for Manning is appropriate.
He can envision the reception.
“It’ll be tremendous,” Irsay said. “They will cheer, as deserved. When he comes back on the field, I think there will be a boisterous standing ovation, as there should be. He means so much to our franchise.
“It’s going to be crazy, but mostly it’ll be fun. I hope it’s just a great game.”