This past weekend was a big one for three Indianapolis Colts players past and present. Legendary Quarterback (QB) Peyton Manning and his teammate of six seasons, Running Back (RB) Edgerrin James, were both inducted together into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (HOF) in Canton, Ohio as part of the Class of 2021 and 2020 respectively. In addition, current Colts linebacker Darius Leonard agreed to a 5-year, $98.5 million extension to make him the highest-paid Inside Linebacker (ILB) in NFL history.
The duo of Manning and James played together in Indy from 1999-2005. During that time, the team had six seasons with 10 or more wins and won four division titles. They now join their old teammate, Wide Receiver (WR) Marvin Harrison, in the Hall of Fame as the trio known as the “Colts Triplets”. Both players will each receive their commemorative HOF rings during the Colts Week 2 regular-season home game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Now, let’s take a look at some of the highlights and achievements of their individual careers.
First, Peyton Manning played 18 total seasons in the NFL. He was a member of the Indianapolis Colts for 13 seasons (1998-2011) until a neck injury sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, which means that he really played only 17 full seasons. Despite this, Manning recovered from his neck injury in 2012 and was then released by Indianapolis. He signed with the Denver Broncos, with whom he played for three seasons from 2012-2015. During his illustrious career, Manning won two Super Bowl titles. The first one was with the Colts in 2006 (Super Bowl XLI (41)), where he was also named Super Bowl MVP, and the other one was with the Broncos in 2015 (Super Bowl L (50)). He’s also a 5x NFL MVP (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013), 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2004, 2013), NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2012), and 7x First Team All-Pro (2003-2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013). Finally, Manning has been to 14 Pro Bowls (1999, 2000, 2002-2010, 2012-1014) and holds NFL records for most passing touchdowns in a season (55 TDs), most passing yards in a season (5,477 yards), and is tied for most passing touchdowns in a game (7 TDs). He finished his career statistically with 6,125 passing completions on 9,380 passing attempts for 71,940 total passing yards, which is a completion percentage of 65.3%. He also has a TD-INT ratio of 539-251 in addition to a passer rating of 96.5. Manning is arguably considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL based on his numbers, as well as how he changed and transcended the quarterback position. He was one of the smartest to ever play the game at the line of scrimmage just by how he audibled plays.
Next, Edgerrin James played 11 seasons in the NFL for three different teams, which included the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks. He was drafted fourth overall by the Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. A few of his career highlights and awards include the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1999), 2x First Team All-Pro (1999, 2005), and 2x NFL Rushing Yards leader (1999, 2000). James was also selected to 4 Pro Bowls (1999, 2000, 2004, 2005), and is the Colts’ all-time leader in career rushing yards (9,226), attempts (2,188), and touchdowns (64). In addition to that, he holds Indy’s franchise records for most rushing yards in a single season (1,709) in 2000, most seasons with 1,000+ rushing yards (5), and best career rushing yards per game average (96.1). He ranks 13th on the all-time rushing list and is a member of the 10,000 Yards rushing club. Despite not being on the Colts’ team that won Super Bowl XLI in the 2006-07 season, James still received a Super Bowl ring from Colts owner Jim Irsay and was later inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during a Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 23, 2012. In his recent HOF speech, James said “I went from having dreads and gold teeth in my mouth to now wearing a gold jacket,” “I’m locked up in the Canton Correctional Institute,” “Inmate No. 336 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Finally, to end the big weekend for the Colts and their fans, ILB Darius Leonard signed his big $98.5 million extension to keep him in Indy for the next five years. Leonard, a second-round draft pick by the team in 2018 out of South Carolina State, has accomplished a lot in his short time in the NFL. Leonard led the league in tackles (2018) and is a 2x First Team All-Pro (2018, 2020). He also won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2018), has been selected twice to the Pro Bowl (2019, 2020), and was voted into the NFL Top 100 (2019). His nickname is the “Maniac” due to his energetic and productive play on the field. Based on his play on the field so far, Leonard has definitely earned this new contract extension. We’ll see if he can continue to be one of the NFL’s best defensive players overall at the inside linebacker position while helping the Colts defense remain one of the better units in the league.
Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.