Indy fans still love Peyton, but they're root for Colts on Sunday
Last Updated: 49 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - Peyton Manning is now the architect of magical moments at Mile High, but in Indianapolis he’s credited with almost single-handedly launching the birth of football in a predominantly basketball state and town.
"He built the city pretty much when he got here," said Eric Boxley, manager of Colts Grill in downtown Indianapolis. "He was the face of this town for more than a decade."
"Indianapolis is what it is today because Peyton Manning pretty much built the town," said Colts fan Steve Taylor.
Manning’s return to Indianapolis for the Broncos-Colts game Sunday night is arguably the biggest homecoming for a superstar athlete in any sport, ever.
"Top 10 most influential people who have helped shape this city,” said Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl. “And just to give you an idea of his ongoing influence, last year on this exact same Sunday night, Week 7 of the season, our downtown hotels enjoyed a 57 percent occupancy rate. Fast-forward to this year, this Sunday night (and) they’re virtually sold out -- 99.9 percent are full.”
Manning Broncos gear is also outselling Andrew Luck Colts merchandise to addresses in Indianapolis this week, according to fanatics.com, the leading online outfitter of official NFL merchandise.
"People love him," said Boxley. "They love him. They can’t wait to see him come back."
But fans in Indianapolis are still loyal to the Colts.
"I'm not rooting for Manning this weekend," said Taylor. "We're setup for the future with Andrew Luck, and they're setup to win right now with Manning."
"Obviously, it was a business decision with the Colts and Peyton Manning," said Boxley. "I think it worked out well for all parties involved."
"We all love Peyton, but he's in Denver now. The Colts are our team," said Taylor.
"What he did on and off the field was very instrumental in bringing Indianapolis into the international spotlight," said Gahl. "For that, we will always be grateful. The rise of the Colts under the leadership of Peyton."
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