ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In his 16 seasons as an NFL quarterback,
230 of them to be exact.
But zero of those have come against this week’s opponent, the Indianapolis Colts.
After spending his first 14 years with the Colts, Manning will return to Indianapolis for the first time as an opponent on Sunday.
“It may sound strange, but it’s an unfamiliar opponent,” Manning said on a conference call with Indianapolis media.
While the opponent might be unfamiliar, the venue is extremely familiar to Manning.
He’s played 24 games at Lucas Oil Stadium, amassing a 19-5 record there. That .792 winning percentage is his second highest in any NFL stadium where he’s played at least five games.
But before all 24 of those games he got ready in the home locker room.
Sunday he’ll still get his ankles taped just as he did during his time as a Colt, but this time that will be done in the visitor’s locker room.
“It’s hard to predict how I will feel, emotionally,” Manning said. “Football certainly is an emotional game, but to predict how you will feel? I just don’t know. All I know is this week, as far as Wednesday, today, what I’m doing to prepare – that’s all I can do. To be to 52 other guys that are counting on you, coaches that are counting on you to be prepared to play a good football team, a good defense, a team that – it may sound strange – that is unfamiliar. It’s an unfamiliar opponent, a lot of guys that I’ve never played against and certainly a new scheme. How I’ll feel walking into the stadium? I can’t tell you that right now.”
Although plenty has changed since Manning played for the Colts, he will still see some familiar faces across the line of scrimmage on Sunday.
“Well, it’s no question it’s unique,” Manning said. “As far as when you’re in the meeting rooms, and you’re watching film, you’re certainly familiar with some of the guys, but not many of them. There are a lot of guys on that team that could care less about my time in Indianapolis. There’s a lot of guys on this team that could care less about my time somewhere else. But when you see a Robert Mathis, or an Antoine Bethea – guys that you’re close to, guys that you played in some huge games with – there really is a bond there. But when you’re getting ready to play them, on film it’s a challenge.”