Top 10 Indianapolis Colts in NFL History
They've had their share of success and misfortune in two different cities. Today, I rank the top 10 Indianapolis Colts of all time.
10. Bert Jones
He could have been remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
A first round pick in 1973, Bert Jones was brought in to be the heir apparent to Johnny Unitas. He led the team to three consecutive division titles in the mid 70's. In 1976, Jones had his best season when he threw for 3,104 yards and a career-high 24 touchdowns, compiling a passer rating of 102.5. He was one of only three quarterbacks to achieve a passer rating over 100 during the entire decade of the 70's. In 1980, he set a league record by being sacked 12 times in a game against the Cardinals. His later seasons were cut short by severe rotator cuff injuries.
Jones spent his final season in Los Angeles before retiring after 1982. He was a 1976 pro bowler, two time All-Pro, and the 1976 NFL MVP.
9. Reggie Wayne
He is one of the best all around receivers playing today.
A first round pick in 2001, Reggie Wayne was brought in to be a complement receiver to Marvin Harrison. By 2003, he was having 1,000 receiving yards and double digit touchdowns. In 2006, he caught a 53 yard touchdown pass in the teams Super Bowl XLI victory. In 2007, Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark went down with injuries and Wayne became the number one receiver. That year he caught over 100 passes for a league leading 1,510 receiving yards. In 2012, he broke the league record of consecutive games with 3 or more receptions and moved into the second spot in career playoff receptions.
In Wayne's 13 seasons in Indianapolis, he has recorded 1,006 receptions for 13,566 yards and 80 touchdowns. He has been a six time pro bowler, three time All-Pro, 2007 receiving yards leader, and Super Bowl champion.
8. Dwight Freeney
He is one of the most productive pass rushers in the game today.
A first round pick in 2002, Dwight Freeney set an NFL rookie record with 9 forced fumbles in a season. In 2004, he led the NFL with 16 sacks and he developed a spin move which became his trade mark pass rush move. In 2007, Freeney signed a six year, $72 million contract with $30 million in guaranteed money making him one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL. He left the Colts after the 2012 for San Diego as the all time franchise leader in sacks with 107.5.
In 11 seasons in Indianapolis, Freeney was a seven time pro bowler, four time All-Pro, 2004 league sack leader, and Super Bowl champion.
7. Lenny Moore
"Lightning Lenny" was the first great dual threat running back in league history.
A first round pick in 1956, Lenny Moore was both a great runner and receiver. He lined up both in the backfield as a halfback and split wide as a receiver and was equally dangerous at both positions in the offense engineered by quarterback Johnny Unitas. Moore averaged at least 7 yards a carry in several seasons. He made 40 receptions for 687 yards and seven touchdowns in 1957, the first of five straight years in which he would have 40 or more catches. In 1958, he caught a career-high 50 passes for 938 yards and seven touchdowns in helping the Colts win the NFL championship. In 1964, he had a league record for consecutive games with a rushing touchdown with 18.
Moore retired after 1967 as a seven time pro bowler, five time All-Pro, the 1956 rookie of the year, the 1964 comeback player of the year, and two time NFL champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
6. John Mackey
He is widely considered the best overall tight end in NFL history.
A second round pick in 1963, John Mackey quickly became the premier tight end in the league. was not like other tight ends of his day, who were typically thought of as just another tackle on the line of scrimmage. Mackey added another dimension to the position. His breakaway speed made him a legitimate long distance threat. His best example of that is in a game against Detroit when he broke nine tackles and scored a touchdown. His most famous playoff play came in Super Bowl V when he grabbed a deflected pass from Johnny Unitas that produced a 75 yard touchdown, a Super Bowl record at the time.
Mackey spent his final season in San Diego before retiring in 1972. He was a five time pro bowler, three time All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
5. Gino Marchetti
He was the blueprint for the modern day pass rusher.
A second round pick in 1952, Gino Marchetti was a brilliant all around defender. He was adept at stopping the running play, but best known for his vicious pass rushing techniques. He was known for his hard play and he was a particular terror on third-down, obvious passing situations. When opponents double-teamed him, or sometimes even triple-teamed him, that tactic only served to make the rest of the Colts rush line more effective. He made his most famous play in the 1958 NFL Championship Game when he prevented the Giants from gaining a first down by tackling the running back just a yard before the first down mark while fracturing his leg on the play.
Marchetti retired after 1966 as an 11 time pro bowler, 10 All-Pro, and two time NFL champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
4. Raymond Berry
He had some of the greatest hands of any receiver in league history.
A 20th round pick in 1954, Raymond Berry was a long shot to make the Colts roster. By his second season, he became the teams starting receiver. During his career, he led the NFL in receptions three times and was renowned for his great hands and precise pass patterns. In his 13 year career, Berry only dropped a total of two passes and fumbled only once. He was famous for his attention to detail and preparation. He and quarterback John Unitas regularly worked after practice and developed the timing and knowledge of each other's abilities that made each more effective. He ended his career with a then NFL record 631 receptions for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns.
Berry retired after 1967 as a six time pro bowler, five time All-Pro, and two time NFL champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.
3. Marvin Harrison
He is one of the most productive receivers in league history.
A first round pick in 1996, Marvin Harrison became the offenses best offensive weapon. In 2002, he broke Herman Moore's single season receptions record with 143 catches and also had over 1,700 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. In 2006, Harrison became just the fourth player in NFL history to record 1000 receptions. He is also one of only seven wide receivers in league history to reach 100 touchdowns. Harrison and Peyton hold every major record for a quarterback wide receiver duo in league history. He holds numerous NFL records including consecutive seasons with 100 or more receptions, most consecutive games with a reception to start a career, and most average receptions per game in a career among others.
Harrison retired after 2008 as an eight time pro bowler and All-Pro, two time receiving yards leader, two time receptions leader, the 2005 receiving touchdowns leader, and Super Bowl champion.
2. Peyton Manning
"The Sheriff" is rewriting the record book in every major passing area.
The first overall pick in 1998, Peyton Manning set the record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie. By 1999, he had already established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. In 2004, Manning broke Dan Marino's record for most passing touchdowns in a season with 49. In 2006, Manning led the Colts to a victory in Super Bowl XLI and was named the game's MVP. In 2011, he spent the entire season on the sidelines while recovering from multiple neck surgeries. With his future in doubt, the Colts released Manning before 2012 and he has since signed with Denver. There he regained his single season touchdown record and won his league record fifth MVP.
In his 16 seasons in the league, Manning has been a 13 time pro bowler, 10 time All-Pro, five time NFL MVP, three time AFC champion, Super Bowl champion, four time passing touchdowns leader, the 2012 comeback player of the year, and is the Colts all time leader in wins, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions and passing yards.
1. Johnny Unitas
"The Golden Arm" is still the measuring stick to which all other great quarterbacks are judged.
After being cut by Pittsburgh, Johnny Unitas signed with the Colts in 1956. his first season as the Colts full time starter at quarterback, he finished first in the NFL in passing yards and touchdown passes as he helped lead the Colts to the first winning record in franchise history. Unitas helped the team win "The Greatest Game Ever Played" in the 1958 NFL Championship game by winning the first overtime game in league history. He set the original standard for most wins as a starting quarterback with 118 regular season victories. He once held the records for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass and two touchdown passes.
Unitas spent his final season in San Diego before retiring in 1973. He was a 10 time pro bowler, seven time All-Pro, four time NFL MVP, three time Pro Bowl MVP, three time NFL champion, and Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.