Former Colt, Ken Dilger: “Any Other Year, Irsay Would Have Kept Peyton Manning, But The Colts Can’t Pass Up Andrew Luck”

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Ken Dilger

Andy Lyons /Allsport

The Drive Wednesday 3-7-12-Ken Dilger, a former tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, checked in to discuss today’s press conference releasing Peyton Manning, where he thought Manning would end up and share some of his stories from the seven seasons they played together.

Having started with the Colts during Manning’s rookie season, Dilger considers Manning to be a close friend.  He said watching the press conference today was upsetting because he is close with not only Manning but also Jim Irsay, and knows how hard the decision was for both parties.

“[The press conference today,] it was tough to watch that because I have known Jim since 1995…when you spend 14 years in a town with the same organization…you become good friends with all these people and it is tough to leave that…at the end of the day it is a business decision.  Peyton revived this program in 1998…[Peyton has done so much for this organization and Indianapolis as a whole…] he changed it from a basketball state to a football state, and I don’t think anyone will ever forget that.”

Dilger doesn’t think that Manning ending his career away from the Colts will affect his standing as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.  He believes that Manning will always be remembered in a positive light as a Colt and his presence will be greatly missed.

“If you take a look at it in a contract situation…you are disappointed because of what Peyton meant to the organization and to the city…if you take a look at it as a business transaction…with Peyton being 36 with a neck injury that may or may not be good…it makes sense to draft that next quarterback for the future…does Peyton want to have someone looking over his shoulder?…I would think that is the biggest reason Peyton is no longer with the Colts.”

Dilger also said the decision was, this year, with the Colts holding the number one draft pick, an obvious choice.

“How many great quarterbacks have started and finished their careers with the same teams?…Some of the great quarterbacks in history that didn’t finish their career with the same team.  I am sure Peyton wanted to do that, but somewhere along the way…life changed that…any other year, Irsay would have kept Peyton around but [the Colts can’t pass up Andrew Luck]…[Peyton] can throw the ball, it is just a question of his injury and if that will affect future play. ..He could go to any team[in the NFL if he wanted to] and there are pros and cons of each…Peyton is going to take his time and figure out what team he really wants to go to and…get another [Super Bowl] ring.”

 Dilger remains close with Manning to this day, saying that his wife and Manning’s wife are close friends.  His favorite moments of Manning all circle around how thoughtful and generous Manning is with fans.

 “He always had a sharpie in his pocket because he knew he would be asked to sign autographs…one of those sharpies I stole because it said ‘the official pen of Peyton Manning’…”

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