Manning just the latest devastating QB injury
When Peyton Manning(notes) sat out the Indianapolis Colts’ season opener against the Houston Texans on Sunday, it was the first time he didn’t start as the Colts’ quarterback since he was selected by the franchise in the 1998 draft. Manning had been the only starting quarterback for the Colts in over a decade – through 208 regular season games, 19 playoff contests, two AFC titles and victory in Super Bowl XLI.
And in one game, we had a glimpse of what a Peyton-less future holds for the Colts – it was nightmarish. With aging Kerry Collins(notes) under center, Indianapolis was slaughtered by the dynamic Houston Texans in a 34-7 rout. And more ominous for the Colts, Manning will be out for at least a few more weeks, if not the entire season.
|Slideshow: Top 10 devastating QB injuries|
The Colts’ streak of nine consecutive seasons in the playoffs – and with at least 10 wins – will be on the line, but more importantly, their status as one of the NFL’s elite is in serious jeopardy.
History does offer a sliver of optimism. The 1968 Colts went 13-1 after Johnny Unitas got hurt in the preseason, as Earl Morrall won the NFL MVP and led them to the Super Bowl. The 49ers hardly missed a beat when Joe Montana was out for the season in 1991, with Steve Young using it to launch his own Hall of Fame career. The 1999 Rams didn’t fare too badly, either, as some former grocery bagger (think his name’s Kurt Warner(notes)) stepped in capably after Trent Green(notes) blew out his knee in an exhibition game.
But for the most part, when a team loses its renowned field commander, it’s just pure, unadulterated bad news.
The 49ers didn’t have nearly as easy a time replacing Young in 1999 when he was knocked out for the season with a concussion, and in fact, the franchise has not completely recovered from that devastating loss. The New York Jets are just now coming out of the doldrums that afflicted the franchise after Joe Namath’s chronic knee problems finally rendered him mostly as a spectator after winning Super Bowl III.
Even for the Colts franchise, there was an eerily similar precedent. While the team switched between Unitas and Morrall without a hitch in the late 1960s and early ’70s, it could not weather injuries to their successor Bert Jones. After three straight 10-win seasons and playoff appearances from 1976-78, the Colts went into a steep decline when Jones managed to play only seven games in the following two seasons. They went to the postseason just three times in the subsequent 20 years – and moved from Baltimore to Indy – until Manning showed up.
So Colts fans, brace yourselves for our top 10 most devastating injuries to a franchise quarterback, from the merely awful to the downright calamitous:
5. Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons, 2003)
4. Randall Cunningham (Philadelphia Eagles, 1993)
3. Bert Jones (Baltimore Colts, 1978)
2. Joe Namath (New York Jets, 1971)
1. Steve Young (San Francisco 49ers, 1999)
• See more QB injuries
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