The Untouchables: Retired Numbers

As many of you may know, I hate the fact that Baltimore Colts numbers are retired.  To be honest, I don’t care about the Colts pre-1984.  I do not consider them a part of Colts history.  Currently, the Colts have 7 retired numbers, none of them are Indianapolis Colts.  However, with the star power and the recent success, that is bound to change.  In 10 years, these numbers will be hanging from the rafters of Lucas Oil Stadium.

4. Adam Vinatieri AND Jim Harbaugh: A dual number retirement is uncommon, but in this situation, it has to be done.  Harbaugh is the best game-manager in Colts history.  Vinatieri was the kicker for the Colts Super Bowl team, and he will finish his career out in Indy, presumably winning more championships.  Vinatieri is a Hall of Famer, and John Harbaugh is a Colts great.  Seeing Vinatieri’s and Harbaugh’s names under the number will look pretty cool.

18. Peyton Manning: Um, do I even have to explain this?  Seeing anyone but Peyton wearing the number 18 for the Colts would make me physically sick.  Like number 4 in Green Bay, 18 should be retired immediately after Peyton retires and becomes QB coach for the Colts.

32. Edgerrin James: I really hope Mike Hart changes his number.  James is a Hall of Famer, and his number should be preserved.  Edgerrin gained almost 10,000 yards on the ground as a member of the Colts.  He is the greatest Colts running back in history, and Hart should wear a different number so Edgerrin can be the last player to wear 32 for the Colts.

63. Jeff Saturday: Saturday will make it to the Hall of Fame when his career is done.  Comparing him to modern-era Hall of Fame centers, he matches up with the best of them.  By the end of his career, Saturday will have been named to the All-Pro team more than 5 times, and that alone qualifies him for the Hall of Fame.  Saturday is the premier center of this era, and he should be immortalized by his name and number hanging from the ceiling of Lucas Oil Stadium.

78. Tarik Glenn: Like 32, no rookie should take this number.  Sadly, Mike Pollak is wearing 78.  I hope after roster cuts, he will change to a different number so Glenn can be the last to have 78 on his back as a member of the Colts.  Glenn was a major contributor to the dominant Colts of the 2000s, and without him, Super Bowl XLI might have been another Patriots Super Bowl.  78 should not be worn again.  Period.

88. Marvin Harrison: Another obvious one.  Harrison is a future Hall of Famer, and he is the greatest Colts receiver of all-time, Baltimore or Indianapolis.  Harrison’s career will undoubtably be cut short by his knee injuries, but that will not keep him from being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  88 is another untouchable number.

As you may notice, 21, 87, and 93 are missing.  I believe that Sanders, Wayne, and Freeney all could be playing come 2018 barring injuries.  I’m not going to predict on when they will retire.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  If I am not certain that in 2018 they will be playing, I won’t put them on this list.  It’s as simple as that.

This is pretty random, but I thought this was a good time to say some info I got on Lucas Oil Stadium.

1) The Lube’s stands can retract so soccer can fit on the field.  As a soccer fan who desperately wants an MLS team in Indiana, this is great news.

2) Lucas Oil is not an outdoor stadium with the option of being indoors.  Vice versa, actually.  Lucas Oil will be used as a dome that can hold outdoor events, an employee of the team said.

Topics: Lucas Oil Stadium, Retired Numbers

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  • http://www.blackandteal.com Jeanne

    I kind of like what the Jaguars do. We don’t actually retire numbers technically but we haven’t used either 71 or 82 since the people who wore them quit playing the game.

    They aren’t like the Colts, though. The Colts have a much longer history.

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  • coltsguy

    I think you mean Jim Harbaugh. John is the coach of the Ravens. Jim QB’d for us as #4.

  • http://naptownsfinest.com Sam

    Yep.  I’ll fix that immediately.

  • Will

    I enjoy seeing the old numbers out there on the field. It reminds me of the old players.  I wouldn’t want my number retired. When I see Hart out there, I’ll think of Edge.  It wouldn’t be good to lock up the number so we can’t be reminded of it during the season.

  • Will

    And, I think it makes the new guy play better. What’s more motivating then trying to live up to 21, whenever Bob is through?

  • http://naptownsfinest.com Sam

    I personally think getting your number retired is more important than the Hall of Fame itself.  All of these guys besides Harbaugh will be Hall of Famers.  We will be reminded of those guys everytime you look up at Lucas Oil Stadium and see the banner with their names and numbers on it.  I know at Conseco Fieldhouse, seeing Miller, Daniels, McGinnis, and Brown remind me more of their greatness than seeing someone else’s name above the number.

  • http://lombardiave.com DJ

    I think certain numbers should definitely be retired, such as Peyton’s because, face it, as you said that’s like putting another guy in #4.  But as for the other ones, the only one I would probably retire would be 88.  The other positions would be as Will said, seeing someone try to live up to it.  This is probably different from my perspective, but a good RB is easier to find than a good QB.  Offensive linemen can be replaced and so on.  But that’s just me.

  • Monkey Business

    You retire numbers for all-time greats that played the vast majority or all of their careers with a particular team.

    Peyton will most likely retire with every major record for a QB. He’ll probably win another ring or three. He’ll be debated as the best QB ever (not one of the best, the best) No one should wear #18 for the Colts after Manning retires. The Colts shouldn’t even make it available. They should include in the press release “The Colts are immediately retiring #18 at a special ceremony to be held immediately at Lucas Oil Stadium”.

    Marvin is the only active receiver that could conceivably catch Jerry Rice. It’s unlikely but not out of the realm of possibility. When you get mentioned in the same sentence as Jerry Rice, you get your numbered retired.

    Basically, here’s two guys who have set the bar so high for their particular positions that there’s almost no way anyone could reach them. These guys should have their numbers retired.

    Now, to break down your list:

    4 (Harbaugh and Vinatieri) – Harbaugh is not a HoF QB. Vinatieri will always be associated more with New England than Indy. When he retires, I can see NE retiring his number, but not Indy. Unless we win a Super Bowl (or three) on his right foot.

    32 (The Edge) – Don’t get me wrong, I think Edge is a HoF running back. But so is Faulk, and I don’t see us in any rush to retire his number.

    63 (Saturday) – Again, HoF guy, but he’s a lineman. Generally speaking, linemen, even truly great ones like Saturday, don’t get numbers retired.

    78 (Glenn) – See Saturday. Great guy, went out on top, but you could never say “Tarik Glenn is the best left tackle in football”.

    Now, as for possible future retirements:
    21 (Sanders) – If Bobzilla can stay healthy, he could retire as one of the most punishing and dominant safeties in the game. He’s already set the bar high. With sustained performance over a relatively long career, he could make the list.

    93 (Freeney) – Certainly possible, but unlikely. Freeney needs to post monster sack numbers the rest of his career, including at least challenging for the regular seasons sack title. If he’s getting double teamed and held on every play, I’m not sure how he’s going to do it.

    87 (Wayne) – Reggie is a great receiver, one of the best in the league. If he’s still one of the best in the league at 35, and still playing for the Colts, then it’s possible. If people start mentioning him in the same sentence with Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice, then it’s probable.

    Realistically, there are a lot of great players on the Colts. You could make arguments for Clark, Mathis, and Brackett too. Probably Stokely as well. But these guys are great players, not transcendent ones. Marvin and Peyton are transcendent, and will always be linked.

  • http://naptownsfinest.com Sam

    I agree with you somewhat on 4 if it was just them alone.  Harbaugh isn’t a Hall of Fame QB, but he is in the Ring of Honor, and Vinatieri should play in Indy for a while if he can stay healthy.  I see Vinatieri winning multiple more rings here.  Both of them combined make a number that should be honored.  Harbaugh for his pre-Manning success and Vinatieri for finishing the job we started when Polian was hired prior to the 1998 Draft.

    The reason why I don’t have Marshall’s number being retired is because Marlin Jackson has made his name with that number, so not until Jackson leaves would it be considerable to retire 28.

    Saturday isn’t just an ordinary lineman.  By the end of his career, he will be mentioned with Munoz and Matthews as the greatest post-merger offensive linemen in history.

    Glenn is a little questionable, but I was always a big fan of his, and he retired early, so that will always have to be considered.

  • http://speedbluenation.blogspot.com Bullard47

    I think that truly remarkable players should get into the Hall of Fame, and players that made an unmistakable impact on a highly successful era of a team should get into the Ring of Honor.  Retiring numbers is silly, because eventually with a successful team, players will have trouble getting any number within their position’s range.  The Cowboys don’t retire, instead using the social pressure of the team’s history to make a player either think twice about taking a number with history behind it, or at least ask the older player’s permission if possible.  If a player has the blessing of the older player, it is a true honor to the player.

    I think that system could work for the Colts.  If Peyton does in fact come back to coach the Colts, he would be accessible to a rookie QB(or WR?) who wishes to wear #18.  It is his number and his history, if there is a prospect who he believes could add to the number’s legacy. he should have the ability to give the thumbs up.  Make this a part of the Ring of Honor package.  That way, AV would have in theory had to ask Harbaugh to wear #4.  I don’t think Harbaugh would have said “No way.”:

    If the NFL had three digit jersey numbers, retiring numbers might be more practical.  But in a highly regimented numbering system constrained to only 99 possibilities, I think it is irresponsible to constrict the number supply in a overtly generous manner.  Allowing more and more players to be honored through number retiring lessens the impact of the honor of the Hall and the Ring.

  • Monkey Business

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. Sustained excellence over a long period of time, a considerable impact on the team and community, and a feeling of “not-rightness” if someone else were to wear the number. If Reggie Wayne retired tomorrow, would we feel weird about someone else wearing #87? If Peyton retired tomorrow, what kind of outcry would their be if some no-name rookie tried to take #18? I think the answer is clear. #18 and #88 have earned the right to never have their number worn by anyone else, ever again. Everyone else could earn it, but as I stated previously, there isn’t a great case for anyone else.

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