The Indianapolis Colts were the least surprising team to get the first playoff win of the 2018 season. The lack of surprise is because the Colts have been cursed since their inception. First, there was the Curse of Bo Jackson, which occurred when the team traded Bo for a week and then had him break his leg. Then there was the Curse of the Bambi, which was believed to have happened when Peyton Manning was traded for a week and then the Colts had a player bungle a punt. The most famous curse of all was the Curse of Historically Bad Quarterbacks, which was the reason the team is still in the NFL at all.
In a game that already included a whopping four fumble mistakes, the Colts had a chance to add to their misery in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Colts struck gold, when Quenton Nelson’s knee got crushed by the offensive line. The Colts’ first-round pick went down like a sack of bricks, and the Colts were forced to punt.
After the Colts drafted their future superstar center, the team was moving full steam ahead on their plan to rebuild the franchise from the ground up. But, just one day later, everything quickly came crashing down. The rookie’s most serious injury, a torn ACL, has the Colts on the brink of utter despair.
Every year, it seems like the Indianapolis Colts are finally making progress. They’ve had success with draft choices such as linebacker Darius Leonard and running back Jonathan Taylor. Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, for example, was acquired through trade. They are in perhaps the weakest football division in the country. For them, this has to be the year. It needs to be done.
Until we recall that the Indianapolis Colts are currently the NFL’s most cursed team. Quenton Nelson, the starting left guard, and Carson Wentz, the newly-minted quarterback, are both on the shelf with the same ailment.
It’s beyond strange that these two had the identical injuries two days apart. Regardless, it’s just another notch in the Colts’ voodoo, karma, or whatever you want to call it, chain of bad luck.
Peyton Manning was the catalyst.
Peyton Manning displays his jersey after the Indianapolis Colts chose him first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft | Focus on Sport/Getty Images
The Colts weren’t always bitten by snakes.
They were a regular presence in the AFC playoff race during the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1999, Peyton Manning’s second season in the NFL, he turned around a team that had ended 3-13 the year before, guiding it to a 13-3 record and a division championship. In the Divisional Round, Indianapolis faced division foe Tennessee Titans and lost 19-16. The Titans went on to face the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl, where they came up half a yard short of a Titans win in one of the greatest Super Bowl endings ever.
Viewers were treated to the first playoff battle between Manning and Tom Brady a few years later, in 2003, which became a familiar sight and rivalry. Manning led the Colts to 11 postseason visits in all, including two trips to the Super Bowl, one of which he won. During his career with the Colts, he ended far and away as the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, earning four MVP awards. He’s a legend in the series.
Then he was injured. The Indianapolis Colts have never been the same since.
Manning was allegedly struggling with a neck ailment going into the 2010 season, but he persevered and managed a 10-six record. They were defeated 17-16 by the New York Jets in the Wild Card Round. He was out for the whole 2011 season due to three operations to repair a herniated disc in his neck. The Colts finished the season with a 2-14 record.
Manning was released by the Colts on March 7, 2012, after a year of recuperation and rehabilitation. Two months later, with the first overall selection, the Colts chose a quarterback from Stanford University who was expected to be Manning’s successor. Andrew Luck was his name.
Andrew Luck didn’t help matters.
Luck had an immediate impact in his first season, passing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns. With an 11-5 record, he guided the Colts back to the playoffs, giving supporters hope once again. In the Wild Card Round, they were eliminated. Following three consecutive seasons of success, Luck advanced to the Wild Card Round, then the Divisional Round, and finally the Conference Championship after the 2014 season.
Unfortunately, the Colts’ pinnacle would be the conference championship game, when they were thrashed 45-7 by the Patriots in the notorious “Deflategate” game.
Luck battled rib and shoulder problems early in the 2015 season before missing the last seven games due to a lacerated kidney. In 2016, his shoulder problems persisted, and he missed the whole 2017 season recuperating from surgery. In 2018, he returned, but was once again hampered by ailments, this time a calf issue.
Luck announced his retirement on August 24, 2019, two weeks before the season began.
“I felt trapped, and the only way out was to stop playing football,” he told CBS Sports. “It has detracted from my enjoyment of the game.”
Carson Wentz and Quinton Nelson are now teammates.
Quenton Nelson has the same foot ailment as Carson Wentz, according to reports. He’ll undergo surgery later today in Indianapolis with the same doctor as Wentz. Nelson is on a 5-to-12-week timetable as well.
3 August 2021 — Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL)
In Indianapolis, the past two seasons since Luck retired have been fraught with uncertainty. With Jacoby Brissett as the starting quarterback, the 2019 season was a battle simply to remain afloat. The Colts were able to squeeze a one-year rental out of Philip Rivers’ last season heading into 2020, making it back to the playoffs before falling in the Wild Card round.
The Colts took a chance this year and traded for Wentz, bringing him back together with former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Frank Reich. Wentz and the Colts seemed poised to succeed with a strong offensive line, a scheme he is familiar with from his time in Philadelphia, and a strong ground game led by second-year running back Jonathan Taylor.
Their main quarterback and All-Pro left guard have both been placed on the shelf in recent days, with recovery periods ranging from five to twelve weeks. Whatever curse Peyton Manning’s injury put on the franchise is still in effect.
Fans of the Indianapolis Colts simply can’t seem to win.
RELATED: Months After Being Traded, Carson Wentz and His Hopeless Fragility Continue to Haunt the Eagles
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