Not too long ago, Jim Irsay had one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL on his roster.
Irsay seems to imply in a recent interview with USA Today that the relative lack of postseason success had something to do with the Colts' 2012 decision to draft Andrew Luck and part ways with Manning, who had missed the 2011 season after having neck surgery four times.
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay said, displaying the Super Bowl XLI championship ring on his right hand.
Manning is already in the top three all-time in most major passing categories and is showing no signs of slowing down. This season, the second since he signed with the Denver Broncos, the 12-time Pro Bowler leads the league with 22 touchdown passes and 2,179 yards passing.
But Irsay suggests that regular-season statistics don't mean nearly as much as Super Bowl wins. Irsay, whose team lost Super Bowl XLIV to the New Orleans Saints during Manning's tenure, pointed to the New England Patriots, with quarterback Tom Brady, and other teams that have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy more often than the Colts since 2000.
"Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these," Irsay said, flashing his Super Bowl ring once again. "Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.
"You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the 'Star Wars' numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne]. Mostly, you love this."
Again, he showed the ring on his right hand.
Irsay also said that he had Manning's blessing to draft Luck with the No. 1 overall pick.
"He said, 'You've got to take Andrew,'" Irsay said. "'You have to. You're crazy if you don't.'"
The move appears to have worked out for both sides. The Colts found themselves with plenty of salary cap space and were able to rebuild a team that had gone 2-14 with Manning injured in 2011.
Luck helped Indianapolis to an 11-5 record in the regular season before losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs. Manning led the Broncos to a 13-3 record before also losing to the Ravens in Denver's first postseason game.
This year, the Broncos are 6-0 and the Colts are 4-2.
"I think it's perfect," Irsay said. "What's happened is what Peyton and I hoped would happen. The desire was for him to get well and get to a team that has a chance to win another Super Bowl before his career ended. And our desire was to be able to transition to Andrew. To be so good so soon is stunning."
The Colts will be honoring Manning in his first trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium as the Broncos quarterback for a "Sunday Night Football" showdown this weekend.