When Peyton Manning joined the Indianapolis Colts as the fresh-faced, overall number one draft pick in 1998, there were a fair number of Colts fans who were unsure about his fit with the organization. After all, he emerged as the team's selection that spring only after months of debate about whether he or Ryan Leaf would become a better quarterback in the NFL and amid a squabble within the Colts' front office. At the time, I thought Manning would make a bigger immediate impact and that Leaf would be better in the long run, and many Colts fans found themselves in the same boat. Although it took us a couple of years and a few Leaf meltdowns to fully embrace Manning, he apparently won't have to wait that long to feel the love in his new city. Armed with the resume of a legend, Manning will take up his place in the Denver Broncos huddle this fall with the overwhelming support of fans, according to a Public Policy poll released on Colorado on June 25.
According to the survey, 53 percent of those polled prefer Manning as the Broncos quarterback, while only 26 percent still long for the beloved Tim Tebow. I guess the other 21 percent either want to see John Elway back in the saddle or simply don't care who leads the team. Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprising result, given Manning's status in the game and the continued knock on Tebow's game, but it sure didn't take long for Number 18 to win over the fan base. This is especially true when you consider how fiercely many Broncos fans defended Tebow over the last couple of seasons and the fact that Manning hasn't thrown a pass in a game for about a year and a half. Maybe the Denver denizens have innate feel for the health of Manning's neck, maybe the grew tired of Tebows genuflections or maybe they really just disliked Kyle Orton.
Whatever the case, Manning appears to be in line for a chorus of cheers a mile up in the atmosphere as he tries to get the Broncos back to the post-season and erase the bad taste from his last year in Indianapolis. Of course, Manning is still a much beloved figure in the Circle City, too, and I'm not so sure he'd lose out to Andrew Luck in a similar poll here. Many talking heads are starting to play on the contrarian viewpoint that the Colts will make big strides this season and might actually make the playoffs. I'm not so sure about that, but I do think it will be fascinating to compare Manning's season to Luck's, as well of the fates of their respective teams.
Meanwhile, Tebow will have to find his way with the New York Jets, and his Q rating will be a product of his ability to either battle or block for incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez. And, of course, Tebow will have to share the big city limelight with Eli Manning, two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the New York Giants.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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