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The real winner in the Indianapolis Colts’ pregame video tribute to former quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday night was the cutting room floor.
Attempting to capsulize Manning’s franchise-altering 14 seasons in two minutes proved to be every bit the challenge most figured it would be.
Greatness doesn’t include boundaries. Nor does the level of adulation Indianapolis fans waited months to rain upon Manning, the Denver Bronco who even as a horse of a different color remains forever a Colt.
Normally an eight-sided blanket of blue, Sunday night’s crowd was flecked with bits of orange — diehard Colts fans unafraid to wear Denver jerseys bearing Manning’s name and familiar No. 18.
At 7:38 p.m., 52 minutes prior to opening kickoff, Manning ran out of the visitor’s tunnel and into view of Colts fans for the first time since leaving the field after a 17-16 loss to the New York Jets in the 2010 AFC wild-card game (he missed the entire 2011 season following neck surgery).
Manning ran immediately to the 30-yard line of the stadium’s north end, was handed a football by one of Denver’s equipment managers and began throwing 12-yard darts to Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker.
No waving to the crowd. No crossing the midfield stripe to embrace former teammates.
Twelve minutes later the crowd erupted when Colts legends Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James were shown on the big screens.
Then it was former Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday, who like Harrison and James, smiled and waved for the cameras.
These were men who helped Manning achieve greatness. And vice-versa. No way were they missing this game and all it entailed.
Finally, those in the capacity crowd of 67,196 turned their attention to the screens in the northwest and southeast corners for the video presentation.
As the decibel count slowly rose to ear-splitting levels, Manning appeared to be misting up as were many of those doing the cheering.
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