Many More Memories Leaving the Colts

The Indianapolis Colts have been Peyton Manning’s team for 14 years, and in the minds of many fans, will always be Manning’s team. 

While that is true, great teams are made up of great players.  Plural.  Peyton was just one of them.  The Colts parted ways with him Thursday in a greatly hyped, greatly emotional press conference. 

Friday, the team sent out a release that they had terminated the contracts of Gary Brackett, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, and Melvin Bullitt.  General manager Ryan Grigson held a teleconference for the media, but that was it.  

It was a quiet and undeserved end.  These players gave so much to the horseshoe over the years.  Especially guys like Brackett and Clark – such key players in the Colts glory years – they deserved a better send off.  

So many memories were made.  

* * * * * * * * * * 

Gary Brackett, the defensive MVP and leader, was a classic Colt.  Undersized and undrafted, Coach Tony Dungy gave him a chance – and Brackett will surely go into the ring of honor on display in Lucas Oil Stadium.  

Bracket’s greatest play as a Colt is one that is often forgotten, because it came in a loss.  Had it come in a win, I dare say it would go down as one of the greatest plays in NFL history.  

The play came in 2005, with the 14-2 Colts trailing the wild card Pittsburgh Steelers in a divisional round matchup in the RCA Dome.  Despite a great comeback to get to within 3, the Colts offense had failed to get a first down and turned it over on downs at the two yard line with 1:20 left.  The game was over. 

Or so we thought. 

Leading 21-18, the Steelers needed two yards to go to Denver for the AFC Championship. 

They gave it to running back Jerome “the Bus” Bettis, quite possibly a future hall of famer.  Brackett lowered his helmet, placed it perfectly on the football, and the ball came out.  Nick Harper scooped up the ball, took it back to around midfield, where he was tackled by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in what is now known as the “immaculate tackle”.  

The Colts, back from the dead, had another shot. 

Mike Vanderjagt blew it.  

If the Colts had won, they quite possibly would have won the super bowl.  The Broncos and the Seahawks were in no way better than that Colts team – the best Colts team of the Manning Era.  

And if they had, Gary Brackett would have made the play that saved their season.  

Of all the great memories of the linebacker, that one is my favorite.  He never gave up, ever.  As a result, he will forever be considered one of the fixtures of one of the greatest runs ever. 

Thank you,Gary.

* * * * * * * * * * 

Dallas Clark, when healthy, is among the best offensive weapons in all of football.  The guy helped transform the tight end position, just as his quarterback did to his respective position.  

Last year, the league was dominated by tight ends, such as Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.  But first there was Dallas Clark.  

From 2006-2009, no tight end in the league was better than Dallas.  He was an even better person.  He always won with class. 

On the field, nobody could stop him.  In the 2006 playoffs,Clark returned from an injury to spark the Colts offense.  Bob Sanders’ return to the defensive side of the ball is talked about a lot, whileDallas’ return is hardly talked about at all.  But it was just as big. Clark led the teams in receiving yards and was second in receptions, all the while posting one of the best postseasons for a tight end ever.  

In 2007,Clark caught a TE franchise record and career best 11 touchdowns.  

In 2008,Clark caught 77 passes for 848 yards.  The next season would prove to be the greatest of Clark’s career. 

In 2009, Dallas Clark caught a TE franchise record 100 balls for a franchise record 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dallas was the NFL MVP’s (Manning) best weapon and maybe the best weapon in the league. 

But since, his injuries have returned.  More so than his cap number, his injuries are the reason he was released.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he hooks up with Manning again.  

Clark will go into the ring of honor as well. 

Thank you Dallas. 

* * * * * * * * * * 

Joseph Addai had the great responsibility, as Andrew Luck will soon learn, of following a legend.  Edgerrin James was the best running back in the NFL during his time with the Colts, and is a border line hall of famer.  

Addai came into the league as a rookie in 2006 and had what proved to be his best season as a Colt.  Joe rushed for 1,081 yards and 7 touchdowns.  All 3 of my favorite Addai memories came during that season.  

One of them is his four touchdown game against the Philadelphia Eagles on national television.  

Another is in the AFC Championship game (the Greatest Game in Colts History), when with less than one minute left Addai took the ball right up the middle and scored the winning touchdown.  

The third is in the super bowl against the Chicago Bears, when Addai rushed for 77 yards and caught 10 passes for 66 yards.  Teaming with Dominic Rhodes, the Colts ran the Bears out of Miami.  Addai set a super bowl record for most receptions by a running back in a game. 

While he likely will not go into the ring of honor, Addai was a very good running back when fully healthy and with good blocking.  I do not blame Addai for the Colts running struggles the past few years, I really don’t.  I think the offensive line is to blame the most.  

Thank you, Joe. 

* * * * * * * * * *

 Melvin Bullitt is also injury prone.  The safety is a capable starting safety if he could stay healthy.  Bullitt was a playmaker and very reliable when on the field, compared to some of the other guys the Colts tried to replace him with.  It was inevitable that he be released because of his injuries, however.

 My favorite Bullitt moment was when the Colts mounted another crazy comeback against the Patriots, this time in 2009.  That game is famous for Bill Belichick’s “4th and 2” decision.  Guess who made the stop?  That’s right, Melvin Bullitt.  

He will not go into the ring of honor, but he will be remembered.  He was a likeable guy and a good player. 

Thank you, Melvin. 

* * * * * * * * * * 

This change needed to happen to this franchise.  They are a mess right now.  I just wish it could have ended better for these guys.  They deserved better.  

Thank you, to all of you.  The glory days of the Colts will not be forgotten, nor you with them.

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About Josh Wilson
Follow Josh on twitter @jwilsonWL, on Facebook at the Operation: Freedom page, or you can reach him by email at operation.freedom@yahoo.com.

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