The expectation is that opinions on Manning leaving will range from "Good Riddance!" to "Thanks For the Memories!". While his absence will make the AFC South a bit easier on the other three teams, it will also make the games a little less exciting and much less important.
During the Manning era the Jaguars failed to gain the upper hand on a regular basis. The team is 5-14 since 2000. But those 5 wins!
- 2003 - Jaguars 28 Colts 23: Amidst a miserable five win season, one if not the only highlight was a fourth quarter comeback in which Jacksonville outscored Indy 14 to 3 in the final 15 minutes.
- 2004 - Jaguars 27 Colts 24: Scobee nails a 53 yard FG with :38 remaining in Indy. Another fourth quarter comeback.
- 2006 - Jaguars 44 Colts 17: Nothing more to be said.
- 2008 - Jaguars 23 Colts 21: Scobee's second stint as Colts killer. Hits a 51 yard FG with :04 remaining.
- 2010 - Jaguars 31 Colts 28; Scobee again. This time the home crowd gets to participate. A 59 yard FG as the clock expired.
Scattered over the years are also loses that have broken our hearts due to Manning's penchant for comebacks our the Jaguars' late game failures. A few also ended up determining who would win the division. 2009's 35-31 and 2010's 34-24 loses are a current reminder of what could have been.
Regardless of whether it ended as a W or L, the games were exciting and ones the fans held up as a standard for gauging the team's improvement.
The sentiment was similar to when Jeff Fisher was fired. No longer was there the symbol which stood to elevate the game to a personal level. The history behind the rivalry was grounded on his presence. Manning is no different. He did not beat you with attitude, it was unfathomable skill and mastery of the situation. At times you did not know whether to be frustrated with your team's performance or amazed by the ease at which the Colts offense drove the field.
I am sure Tampa Bay and Miami can speak to Manning's prowess.
Maybe Andrew Luck will fill the role neatly and the drop off will not be severe. That remains to be seen. At present we are all party to the end of an era. If you are a football fan it will be hard to watch Peyton wear anything other than the blue and white. Selfishly I will miss that one game a year when he comes to Jacksonville. His presence transcended the competition.