Things like showing Phillip Fulmer the door, and now things like saying goodbye to Marvin Harrison.
According to Adam Schefter, a writer for NFL.com, Marvin Harrison will be let go by my Colts here within the next few days. Harrison who will be 37 by the time the 2009 regular season starts will go down as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. However he would also be getting paid 13.4 million dollars this year and with his significantly decreased productivity over the past couple years makes it hard to justify spending that much money on him.
In Schefter’s words, the Colts are “starving for more salary-cap room” and will need to cut Harrison so that they will be able to resign other players whose contracts have run out, most notable is probably cornerback, Kelvin Hayden, who was resigned to a 5-year, 43 million dollar deal. The Colts have been preparing for the day that Harrison would no longer be in the speed blue uniforms, whether it be from him retiring or from them releasing him, they have drafted wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez, Roy Hall and Pierre Garcon in just the past two years.
This needs to be done, it’s just sad. I could go on for a while about why exactly the Colts must do this. After all, I have been saying to Bryan since November that I don’t think Marv will be back next year. This does not mean, however, that it will make this any easier. So instead of writing more about why this needs to happen, I will write about why this is so sad for me.
For those of you that don’t know, I became a Colts fan in 1994 because I liked Marshall Faulk. I was only six years old and saw a commercial with Faulk in it that I thought was “cool” so I asked my dad what team he played for and he told me the Colts.
From that moment on I was a Colts fan. It wasn’t until the next year, the 1995 season, that I had understood what it meant to be a “true fan” and really started to follow the Colts.
So after that 1995 season, I tried to sit down and watch the 1996 NFL Draft, and because of this, with the 19th overall pick, Marvin Harrison became the first player I ever watched my Colts draft. I believe shortly after that I got bored and went to play outside but, all the same, he’s still the first player’s name I ever heard called as the pick for the Colts.
Harrison’s impact on the team was immediate, he was the team’s leading receiver as a rookie and I soon had my two favorite players: Faulk and Harrison. In Harrison’s second year the Colts finished with a pitiful 3-13 record, which was poor enough to earn them the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. This is when my fanhood sky rocketed to a level of unhealthy proportions.
My parents were out of town and I was staying with my grandparents in Topeka, KS. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in their kitchen watching the pre-draft show, and the only thing that anyone was talking about was whether the Colts would pick Peyton Manning, the star quarterback of my Tennessee Volunteers, or some Ryan Leaf guy that I didn’t care where he was from or who he was. I was ten years old and all I knew was that I wanted my Colts to pick Peyton. The Colts clearly made the right choice.
With the first overall pick of the 1998 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts select Peyton Manning, quarterback, Tennessee.
“Who could stop us?” I thought. We had brought in Jim Mora as the new Head Coach to replace Lindy Infante. But more than that I kept thinking “Peyton Manning, Marshall Faulk, Marvin Harrison. Who can stop us?”
Well as it turned out 13 teams could stop us that year, again finishing with a disappointing 3-13 record. Peyton and Marvin hadn’t quite found any chemistry yet. Harrison finished the year with only 776 yards and 7 TDs on 59 receptions. All three numbers were lower than his rookie year.
After that 1998 season, Faulk left for Bryan’s Rams, going on to be apart of one of the best offenses of all time. I was sad, but my allegiance to the Colts had already been solidified. The Colts had the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft and with it selected Edgerrin James.
After Peyton had to opportunity to fix all the rookie issues he had, things took off. The very next year, the 1999 season, the Colts finished 13-3. Harrison had an astounding 1663 receiving yards to go with 12 TDs and 115 receptions. We clearly had something special going, and even more importantly the Colts had the second seed in the AFC Playoffs. However we lost in disappointing fashion to the Tennessee Titans by just 3 points. The Titans went on to lose to Faulk’s Rams by a yard.
The following year the Colts again had a strong season, finishing 10-6 and earning another playoff spot. Harrison again put up great numbers; 1413 yards, 14 TDs and 102 receptions, but again the Colts lost their first game of the playoffs. Losing by just 6 points to the Miami Dolphins.
In the 2001 draft, the Colts grabbed Reggie Wayne at the end of the first round, which turned out to be an absolute steal. The 2001 season, however, didn’t go so well. Marvin Harrison finished the year with 1524 yards, 15 TDs and 109 receptions but the Colts finished just 6-10. With a dominating offense and a dominated defense, it was apparent that our defense needed to be fixed and nobody was talking about the playoffs. “Playoffs?! Don’t talk about playoffs! You kiddin’ me?! Playoffs?!”
After that season, Tony Dungy was brought in as the new Head Coach. Dungy, who was known as a defensive minded coach showed that he knew things needed to be changed on the defensive side of the ball, using 7 of the Colts 8 2002 draft picks on defensive players, the first of which was Dwight Freeney. Thing started looking back up, the Colts finished 10-6 and earned a playoff spot in the process. And Marvin kept on his dominating path, with 1722 yards, 11 TDs and 143 receptions. However the Colts again lost their first game of the playoffs, and in embarrassing fashion. The Jets handed us a 41 to 0 beat down.
In 2003, Dungy continued to bring in great players through the draft including Dallas Clark and Robert Mathis. Another great year by Harrison (1272 yards, 10 TDs, and 94 receptions) helped the Colts finished 12-4, winning the division and clinching a playoff spot yet again. This time however they won, in a 41 to 10 smack down of the Denver Broncos. Peyton showed no mercy, throwing for 377 yards and 5 TDs and a perfect passer rating. Marvin had 7 reception for 133 yards and 2 TDs. Unfortunately, we lost in the next round.
2004 was a great year, we got Bob Sanders with the 44th overall pick (what a steal) and the Colts finished 12-4. Peyton Manning put together the greatest single season ever by a quarterback, and nobody has to this day has had a better season than his 121.1 passer rating. Marvin was still doing his thing putting up great number with 1113 yards, 15 TDs and 86 receptions. The Colts again smashed the Broncos 49 to 24, but again lost in the next round.
The 2005 season started out fantastically, we drafted some great young defensive talent in Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Tyjuan Hagler. Marvin Harrison had 1146 yards that year to go with 12 TDs and 82 receptions. Then better yet, we started out the season 14-0. Tragedy struck however when Tony Dungy’s son took his own life. This was earth shattering for the Colts, who ended up losing their final two games of the regular season, and then losing in their first game of the playoffs by just 3 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
Then finally, there was 2006. We lost Edgerrin James, who went to the Arizona Cardinals, but we drafted Joseph Addai and Freddie Keiaho and Antoine Bethea. Then we went 12-4, earning yet another playoff spot. Harrison finished the year with 1366 yards, 12 TDs and 95 receptions. It was the wild card round of the playoffs and everyone thought Larry Johnson and the Chiefs would run all over us.
No! We won 23 to 8. Then we had to travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens and all their fans, who hate us for up and leaving them so many years ago. Again, Jamal Lewis was supposed to have a hay-day. No! We win 15 to 6. And then it was the patriots. The hated rivals. In the AFC Championship. They had to come to our house this time around however, and we beat them with dramatic fashion, in a 38 to 34 victory. Then we got to go to Miami for Super Bowl XLI to face the Chicago Bears. AND WE WON THE SUPER BOWL 29 to 17!
Unfortunately this is when Marvin Harrison’s production started to fall off. In the 2007 season he suffered from an injury that only allowed him to play in 5 games, and totaling just 247 yards, 1 TD and 20 receptions and the Colts were knocked out of the playoffs in their first game by the San Diego Chargers. Then in 2008 Marvin was healthy for most of the season but ended with just 636 yards, 5 TDs and 60 receptions.
It now looks like that because of these past two years I’ll have to try and get used to not seeing that Harrison 88 on the back of a speed blue jersey anymore, or worse, I’ll have to get used to seeing it in another team’s colors. Harrison’s time with the Colts will end with Hall of Fame credentials. 14,580 receiving yards, 128 receiving TDs and 1102 total receptions. Ranking him 4th, 5th and 2nd on the all time lists respectively. He was a 3-time AP First-Team All-Pro and had 8 straight Pro Bowls. He will likely be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee as well.
Well, Marvin, here’s to the 13 great years you gave to the Colts. Thank you.