Here we are, folks. We are at the top ten Indianapolis Colts of all-time. Through the process of elimination, I’m sure that many of you could guess what great names are going to fall here. I hope you have enjoyed this series and I wanted to say thank you. So without further ado, your top ten Indianapolis Colts of All-time….
#10. Gary Brackett
One of the classiest Colts of all time in general, Gary Brackett’s career in Indianapolis is one that will more than likely go unmatched for some time. He began his career fighting to stay on the roster after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He spent two years as a backup but when he got his chance to shine, he took full advantage of it. Just one year after becoming a starter, he was named defensive captain for the Colts. He ranks 6th on the Colts all-time tackles list and was named AFC defensive player of the week twice. Brackett was the heart and soul of the Colts defense and remained that until he was released in 2011. Brackett did more for the city of Indianapolis than just play football. He was, and continues to be, a contributor to the community. His IMPACT foundation has been a fantastic addition to the Indianapolis community. This is another Indy Colts player whose jersey will be one you continue to see in and around Lucas Oil Stadium- even long after his playing days are over.
#9. Dallas Clark
What can be said about Dallas Clark that Colts fans don’t know? When Clark was drafted he took the league by storm becoming a go-to guy for Peyton Manning. Clark was a key cog in both Super Bowl runs and remains one of the most beloved players in Indianapolis. He holds multiple Colts records and broke every Colts TE record once held by the great John Mackey. Clark’s career wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, though. He had his fair share of injuries that held him down at times, but he would always find a way back from them. He suffered a wrist injury in 2010 that would be his ultimate demise in Indy. He would still have some production, but not like the days of old. He was released in 2012. Clark holds a special place in all Colts fans’ hearts for being an iron man player and never giving up when it would have been much easier to do so.
#8. Edgerrin James
Edge was the running back who set the tone for the Colts offense. He ran hard and fast every down he was on the field. He was a pick that not a lot of Colts fans understood because stud running back Ricky Williams was still on the board when the Colts drafted Edge. Nevertheless, Edge was named Offensive Rookie of the Year- and taking the NFL rushing title his first two seasons make him one of the greatest Indianapolis Colts of All-time. Edge suffered a season-ending knee injury in the ’01-’02 season. It was such a blow to the Colts. He returned the next season, though, and was back to his regular form racking up over 1,500 yards in the next two seasons. Edge was a cornerstone to the Colts team as they built toward getting to their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis. Edge left Indianapolis during the offseason before the first Super Bowl run. He left Indy as the Colts’ All-Time leading rusher. He was inducted in the Colts Ring of Honor in 2012, and also received a Super Bowl ring from Colts owner Jim Irsay as a way to say thanks for helping us get there. Edge is an unforgettable player in Indianapolis Colts history.
Jeff Saturday is one of the best NFL stories in the last 15 years. After going undrafted, Saturday signed a deal with the Ravens. He was waived a short time later. Saturday saw his NFL dream float away and he returned home. After he returned home, he took a job as a manager at a local electrical supply company, and was doing that when the Colts came calling. He was signed and spent his rookie season as a back-up guard. In 1999, Saturday got his first start at guard. The next season he was named the starting center- and it’s history from there. He began his impressive 85 consecutive games starting record at that point, but it was derailed in 2004. He was the anchor for the offensive line for 12 great seasons and was the captain of an O-Line who gave up the fewest sacks in the NFL for three straights season from 2004-2006. Saturday left as a free agent in 2012 and signed with the Packers but after one season with them, he decided to call it a career- and what a career it was. Saturday was honored by Colts owner Jim Irsay with a one day contract after leaving Green Bay to allow him to retire as a Colt. Another great community guy and loved by all, he will always be an Indianapolis Colt great.
#6. Robert Mathis
Mathis is another player that could end up being higher on this list after it’s all said and done. A part of the most feared pass rushing duo in the NFL along with Dwight Freeney, Mathis is the master of the strip stack. His size doesn’t intimidate people but the moves he can put on offensive linemen do. His size, strength and great speed allow him to do things that not many people would have thought he could. He started his career with the Colts as a special teams player and worked his way up to Colts icon. Mathis is second all-time in sacks behind his partner in crime. He has a few more years to play, and I’d be willing to bet he will become the Colts’ all-time sack leader and go down as another all-time Indianapolis Colts player. As a five time pro bowler, all Mathis has left to get is another Super Bowl ring; and he’s hungry for it now.
#5. Dwight Freeney
He is too short to play defensive end in the NFL. He isn’t big enough to be effective. Those are comments that were said about Dwight coming out of Syracuse in 2002. Boy, were those people wrong. He was the runner-up for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and set an NFL rookie record with 9 forced fumbles in his first season. Like Mathis, Freeney caused havoc on the field. Teams had to game plan for him as he was so fast and strong that left tackles had a difficult time keeping him in front of them. Freeney is now the Colts’ All-time sack leader, a 7-time pro bowler, 3-time first team All-Pro, AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the 2000′s All-Decade Team. Not too shabby for a short guy who wouldn’t cut it in the NFL, huh?
#4. Marshall Faulk
When the Colts drafted Faulk in 1994, they were missing a running game completely. The offense was one-dimensional. Faulk changed that in his rookie season when he ran for over 1,200 yards and a total of 12 touchdowns. Faulk was also the first NFL player to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl MVP simultaneously. During the magical 1995 season, Faulk played a very big part in the success of the team. However, an injury kept him out of the AFC championship game. Faulk had a lackluster season in 1996, but showed he was still an elite running back in the NFL over the next two seasons. When he was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 1999, many Colts fans were shocked and upset. That season, Edge came in and the running game didn’t miss a beat. Even with only five seasons in Indianapolis, Faulk was an integral part of the building of this team.
#3. Reggie Wayne
What can be said about Reggie? He is a great football player but an even better human being. Wayne played Robin to Marvin Harrison’s Batman for many seasons. Once Harrison was no longer a Colt, Wayne took the reigns of the wide receiving corps and never looked back. Since then he has had some great seasons under his belt. Wayne is one of the best route runners ever in the NFL- and with some of the spectacular, eye-popping catches he has made throughout his career it’s no wonder people in Indy love this man so much. Wayne still found a way to be a productive player during the season nobody likes to talk about- the one in which Peyton went down. Many thought he would be done after Peyton left town for Denver, but the front office saw that differently. I for one am extremely glad that Wayne was re-signed and kept here where he belongs. Now as the mentor to the new and younger wide receivers on the team, he is, in his own words, the Vice-President of the offense. I tend to agree with Andrew Luck on this one, though. Reggie isn’t the vice president, he is the ruler of this offense and will continue to be until the day he hangs up his cleats and rides off to Miami.
From the time Harrison put on a Colts uniform until his last play in the Horseshoe, he was one of the most amazing and electrifying players in the entire NFL. In his early years, he would burn cornerbacks downfield. In his later years he would still burn them downfield, but would also put moves on these guys that would leave them slack-jawed. He was the first player in NFL history to accomplish two things; two seasons of over 1600 yards receiving and 11 seasons with 50 or more catches. He is the second half of the greatest QB/WR duo in NFL history. He is one of the greatest players in NFL history, and more than likely a first ballot hall-of-famer. What else can I say about this man? He filled us with hope every time a ball was thrown his way and made some catches that very very few NFL wide receivers throughout the history of the NFL would have made. We all love Marvin and always will.
#1. Peyton Manning
I’m sure most you knew this was coming. There isn’t an Indianapolis Colt player that has meant as much to his team than Manning. He was the glue that held the whole team together. No need to run through stats and accomplishments that he has thus far in his career. We all know them. We all loved him here and continue to follow his career even though he is in Denver. Peyton made quantum leaps in the area of quarterbacking. He was the face of the NFL for many many years and IS a first ballot hall-of-famer. Even when the team wasn’t very talented or was missing key cogs to the offense, Peyton made their replacements better. When Peyton comes into Lucas Oil Stadium this year to face his old teammates, the reception for him will be like no other. Manning is and always will be the greatest Colts, Baltimore or Indy, quarterback ever- and he will always be an Indianapolis Colt, no matter where he is.