The Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts Mt. Rushmore

Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts home since 2008. Photo Courtesy: Josh Hallett

In 2016 the Indianapolis Colts will play their 63rd season as a member of the National Football League. 30 of those seasons in Baltimore (1953-1983) at Memorial Stadium before moving to the “Circle City.” In that span they’ve won 4 League Championships (Does not include the AFL or NFL Championships won during the same seasons as the AFL–NFL Super Bowl Championships prior to the 1970 Merger),3 NFL Championships—pre 1970 AFL-NFL merger, 2 Super Bowl Championships, 7 Conference Championships and 16 Divisional Titles. All those accomplishments make them one of the most successful franchises in Pro Football History. And the following are the four guys who are mostly responsible for these accomplishments. If the Colts ever created their Mount Rushmore, these are the four men you’d likely see on it.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives.  Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday.  I will make a separate list for them soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them?

Manning hold over 40 Colts records. Photo Courtesy: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Peyton Manning (1998-2011) is in the discussion to be on the Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time Mount Rushmore, I think that alone makes his case to be on the Colts’ Mount Rushmore. Manning holds nearly every passing record in the Colts history; most wins by a QB (141), most passing yards (54,828), most passing touchdowns (399) and most completions (4,682) among forty-four others. “The Sheriff” led Indianapolis to 2 Super Bowl appearances (XLI, XLIV) winning his first title in Super Bowl XLI to go along with the game’s MVP award. Manning won 4 of his 5 NFL MVP’s (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009), 11 of 14 Pro Bowl selections and 8 of 10 All-Pro team honors with the Colts. He is on the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. The recently retired Manning had his jersey number 18 retired by the team, and the Colts will honor him with a statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. There’s no doubt he will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee when his eligible in 2022.

Johnny “U” was the prototype QB in the early stages of the passing era. Photo Credit: Gannett News Service

Johnny Unitas (1956-1972) was the standard at the QB position with the Colts, and the NFL for that matter. “Johnny U” led the Baltimore Colts to 3 NFL Championships (1958, 1959, 1968) and their first Super Bowl (V) victory. A 10-time Pro Bowl and 7-time All-Pro selection, Unitas was under center for the Colts in what has been called “The Greatest Game Ever Played” versus the Giants, beating New York in overtime 23-17 for the NFL Championship. It was the first game that ever went into sudden death. Four times the man with the flat top and black high top cleats won the NFL MVP Award (1957, 1959, 1964, 1967). Unitas is a member of the NFL 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, as well as the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team. In 1979 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Colts retired his number 19 jersey.

Harrison reaped the benefits of being Manning’s go-to-guy.

Marvin Harrison (1996-2008) was Peyton Manning’s number one option during their time in “Naptown.” Harrison is the Colts all-time leader in receptions (1,102), receiving yards (14,580) and receiving touchdowns (128). The 8-time Pro Bowl and 8-time All-Pro selection holds, or is tied for 33 individual NFL records. The combination of he and Manning holds the NFL Records for most completion between quarterback and wide receiver (953), passing touchdowns (112), passing yards (12,756) and completions in a season (143). The Colts inducted him into their ring of honor in 2011, and he is a member of the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class.

Berry was to Unitas, what Harrison was to Manning. Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Raymond Berry (1955-1967) helped the Baltimore Colts win back-to-back NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959. The 6-time Pro Bowl and 5-time All-Pro wide receiver has the record for most catches in a league championship game (12), and is a member of the NFL’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, as well as the NFLs 1950s All-Decade Team. The team retired his number 82 jersey and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973. Sporting News ranked him the 40th player on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Colts fans let me know what you think. Do you agree with these four? Or is there someone I’m missing? I want to hear from you.

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