Fans navigate to pub to hear Manning’s news first-hand
The magic sports hour at Jordy McTaggerts Grill and Pub hit at 1 p.m. Monday, said Edna Centeno, hostess at Jordy McTaggerts. Employees from all over downtown stopped in to watch Peyton Manning announce his retirement from Denver.
One pair of women demanded the bartender switch off the music so they could hear Manning’s speech, then broke into tears at the news.
“You can’t not be a Peyton Manning fan if you’re from Indiana,” Centeno said.
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A Steelers fan herself, Centeno said she still admires Manning.
She has lived in Indiana since the age of 5, and her father is a big Denver Broncos fan.
Recalling first-ever Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium
Michael Hayes attended the first professional football game ever played at Lucas Oil Stadium. Not the first regular season game, but a little-remembered Aug. 24, 2008 preseason match-up against the Buffalo Bills.
“It was the true first,” said Hayes, general manager at the Columbus Bar.
His father, a long-time Colts fan from the team’s earliest days in Indianapolis, bought season tickets with a family friend. On that particular day, neither was able to attend and the passes fell to Hayes and a brother-in-law.
“They still call it ‘The House that Peyton Built,'” Hayes said of Lucas Oil Stadium.
And Hayes was there, right at the beginning, watching “arguably the best quarterback in NFL history.”
Late-start Colts follower picked up interest when Manning arrived
“When I grew up, we didn’t have the Colts,” said Brian Gentry, bartender at 4th Street Bar and Grill.
He was referring to a time prior to 1984, when the NFL Colts moved from Baltimore.
Even after they did, Gentry wasn’t entirely sold on the new team, but he felt an obligation to root for the recent arrivals.
“You gotta support the hometown team,” Gentry said.
But after Peyton Manning was drafted in 1998, Gentry truly started to pay closer attention.
“He’s like (longtime Indiana University coach) Bobby Knight. No matter where he played, he belongs to us,” Gentry said.
He calls the duo of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison the finest quarterback-receiver combination in NFL history.
She’s followed Colts, Broncos
Connie Fagan remembers when the Colts made their big move to Indianapolis. Her brother worked with the Mayflower moving company and helped to haul some of the franchise’s boxes from Maryland to Indiana.
But the team didn’t gel as a franchise until Peyton Manning arrived, Fagan said Monday.
“We just wanted a good quarterback, and he was it,” she said, recalling Manning being drafted in 1998.
When he left in 2012 after health issues interrupted a 208-game playing streak, Fagan said she was heartbroken.
Rather than dwelling on the loss of Manning, however, she decided she had room in her football heart for another team, Manning’s new Denver Broncos.
Ever since, she has tried to watch both the Colts and the Broncos.
Bears fan comes around to recognize Manning’s impact
Throughout his life, 39-year-old Derric Jaral admits being a Chicago Bears fan.
But there’s a little piece of Colts and Peyton Manning history that brings a sliver of joy to his heart.
Following the 2006 season, the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts defeated Jaral’s Chicago Bears for a 29-17 Super Bowl victory.
Two years later, the Chicago Bears earned a little payback by winning the first regular-season game ever played at the newly built Lucas Oil Stadium.
Jaral admits that Manning fundamentally changed the football landscape in Indiana.
The early Indianapolis Colts were sometimes good and other times bad, and local support seemed half-hearted, Jaral said.
But when Manning took the helm of the Colts’ offense, things changed.
Even lifelong Bears fans in southern Indiana started paying attention to the Indianapolis home team in a way that reminded Jaral of Hoosier Hysteria and basketball.
From one-team bar to two-team place
Gerry Schooler has bartended nearly every Colts game since The Garage Pub and Grill opened seven years ago. He’s become such a reliable resource on all things Colts that the rest of the staff refers all such inquiries to him.
When Manning was a Colt, all television sets were naturally turned to the Colts broadcast at the bar, Schooler said. But when Manning signed with Denver, Broncos games joined the line-up at The Garage.
“They (Denver Broncos) were my second team,” Schooler said.
But the switch tore at the heart of Colts fans in 2012, an emotional time for customers, Schooler said.
“He (Manning) loved being a Colt and everybody truly appreciated that he was,” Schooler said.