By Nick Shook
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There are approximately three star athletes who we can pencil in right now for life-sized bronze likenesses in the near future.
Well, make that two.
Cross Peyton Manning off the statue-in-waiting list, as the Colts announced Tuesday they’ve commissioned a monument in the likeness of the quarterback and will unveil it on Oct. 7 at 3 p.m. ET. The team will also retire Manning’s No. 18 jersey and induct him into the team’s ring of honor during halftime of the Colts‘ Oct. 8 game against San Francisco.
We really don’t need to explain why Manning is deserving of a statue, but we’ll do it anyway: 71,940 yards passing, 539 touchdowns (including the single-season record of 55 in 2013), 251 interceptions, career completion percentage of 65.3 (on 9,380 attempts), career passer rating of 96.5, five-time NFL MVP, seven-time first-team All-Pro, two-time Super Bowl champion (four appearances), multiple seasons leading one of the league’s highest-powered offenses, and a rejuvenation in Denver that resulted in two Super Bowl appearances and a career-capping victory in Super Bowl 50. We also can’t forget his life-sized action figure role in a Gatorade commercial (Peyton Manning, your very own action toy, personal quarterback, he’s all yours!), or his grocery store deli chants (cut that meat!).
Drafted first overall out of Tennessee in 1998, Manning solidifed the quarterback position for a decade and a half in Indianapolis and made the RCA Dome (and later, Lucas Oil Stadium) a place that most teams didn’t want to visit, lest they be blown out by the juggernaut offense of the Colts. Manning’s sustained excellence also helped turn much of Indiana into Colts fans 15 years after they left Baltimore for Indianapolis. He’s the first Colt of the Indianapolis era to have his jersey retired.
Manning left Indianapolis after 2011, when he missed an entire season with a serious neck injury. The absence sent the Colts from the league’s best to its worst, and resulted in the franchise moving on from its beloved quarterback. The team released Manning, holding a tearful news conference for him, before he signed with Denver, where he played from 2012-2015.
“Peyton will always be a Colt,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement released by the team. “This will be an event our city, state and Colts fans around the world can celebrate and be proud of.”
“I am humbled, and I am grateful to Jim and the Irsay family for this tremendous honor,” Manning said in the same statement.
In case you were wondering, the Colts currently don’t have a player listed with jersey No. 18, and the other two athletes mentioned above: Tom Brady and LeBron James.