After recently dedicating a column to my all-time Indiana Pacers starting lineup, I figured it fair to do the same with the Indianapolis Colts.
Only in this case, two columns.
It has been 36 years since the late Bob Irsay ordered a convoy of Mayflower moving trucks west, and this team honors the best of those who played at least five seasons in Indianapolis.
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After going over these time and time again, I came up with the unavoidably painful question of how does Indianapolis only have one Super Bowl title?
(Editor’s note: The Patriots are how.)
Quarterback: Peyton Manning
Eleven years spent here and by all accounts the greatest Colts player ever regardless of city. John Unitas? Yeah, maybe. Raymond Berry? I’ll listen to that. John Mackey? A slight reach, but OK. Manning owns virtually every single-season and career passing record for probably at least the next half-century, so to me, it’s not up for debate. Super Bowl MVP. Surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer. Next.
Receiver: Marvin Harrison
Picked 19th overall in the 1996 NFL draft, Harrison had the ability to make the impossible look routine in his 13 seasons here. A 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, the only thing surprising about Harrison is that it took him three years of eligibility to get elected.
Receiver: Reggie Wayne
Had the fortune and misfortune of being paired with Harrison but in time broke free from his mentor’s shadow to eclipse him in career receiving yards (15,559 to 15,463) and play in six Pro Bowls. Not a Hall of Famer yet but likely will be at some point.
Tight end: Dallas Clark
Like Harrison and Wayne, the dude was money. I wanted to see him spend his entire career as a Colt, but he did from 2003 to 2011 and was a pleasure to watch. Clark only made it to the Pro Bowl once, but his infectious on-field personality was the perfect counterweight to the seemingly computerized Manning.
Offensive line: Anthony Castonzo
The team’s fixture at left tackle since taken 22nd overall in the 2011 NFL draft, Castonzo has been a reliable left tackle, blocking for everyone from Curtis Painter to Dan Orlovsky to Andrew Luck to Jacoby Brissett. After recently signing on for two more seasons, he now gets to protect the blind side of Philip Rivers.
Offensive line: Tarik Glenn
A three-time Pro Bowl selection and the anchor to Colts offensive lines as left tackle from 1997 to 2006. Should be considered for the team’s Ring of Honor — Chris Hinton and Jeff Saturday are the only offensive lineman currently there — but that’s not my call.
Offensive line: Chris Hinton
Hinton’s rookie season came as a starting left guard in Baltimore, but he spent the next six years in Indianapolis, mainly at left tackle. He made the Pro Bowl on five occasions as a Colt and was one of the first to be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Center: Jeff Saturday
Playing the sport’s most unglamorous and overlooked position, Saturday, a mainstay on the line from 1999 to 2011, played in all but one of his six Pro Bowls as a Colt. One of the best centers of his generation, Saturday might one day get a call to Canton, as well.
Offensive line: Ryan Diem
This might seem a stretch, but remember the franchise hasn’t exactly been an assembly line for lauded offensive linemen until recent draftings of center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson. All the same, Diem was a dependable right tackle while spending his entire career (2001 to 2011) with the Colts.
Running back: Edgerrin James
Spent his first seasons as a pro in Indianapolis, eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing in five of them before moving on to Arizona for three years and Seattle for one. James became the 13th player in league history to reach the 10,000-yard milestone for his career and played in four Pro Bowls, and he’s part of the 2020 class of inductees for the NFL Hall of Fame.
Running back: Marshall Faulk
In many ways, ahead of his time for his ability to catch the football out of the backfield as well as he ran it. Faulk’s five first seasons (1994 to 1998) before moving on to St. Louis to help the Rams franchise collect its first Super Bowl trophy in 1999. Note: Eric Dickerson did play five years as a Colt, but Faulk always seemed the more versatile of the two.