When Peyton Manning trots onto the field for his first playoff game as quarterback of the Denver Broncos, he’ll have a legion of fans cheering him on at Mile High Stadium in Denver. He’ll also have a huge fan base in Indianapolis. They are the “Rocky Mountain Colts” fans. And they’ll be cheering him on as well.
A lot has changed for Colts fans since that tearful March breakup with their beloved quarterback. That was the beginning of a complete makeover of their team, from top to bottom. Owner Jim Irsay brought in new management and new coaches. They dismissed veteran talent for talented rookies, including the top draft pick…Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
No one expected much from the Colts this season, even their most faithful fans. The season started as many predicted, with a bad loss to the Bears in Chicago. But then, there was a comeback win over the Vikings, followed by a loss to the Jaguars. And the bye week produced another loss, Head Coach Chuck Pagano, to leukemia. The team united and the fans with them. They made #ChuckStrong their mantra, and they won…a total of eleven games. And they made the playoffs.
Colts fans rallied around their new team and sick coach. They provided the energy…for their team to win and their coach to heal. And in the process, they healed themselves.
Make no mistake, Colts fans still love Peyton Manning. Colts fans will always love Peyton Manning. They will never forget what he did for their team and their city. The relationship has changed, but the love remains.
With their team out of the playoffs, Colts fans are just happy to have a horse in the race. They will cheer for Peyton, as if he was still their quarterback, as far as the playoff road takes him. Because call him a Bronco, a Colt, or a Rocky Mountain Colt, the cheer is still the same…