In seasons past, the rivalry between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts was a strong one. Until the Houston Texans finally broke the streak this past season, in fact, those teams dominated the AFC South, with one of the two wining the Division championship every year since 2002. (Colts fans are quick to note that their team holds seven division championships to the Titans' two.) This rivalry may have cooled off in the past few seasons, as the Titans hovered perenially around .500 while the Colts first made a habit of winning the division, and then bit it hard last season with a 2-14 record under a series of backup QBs. The spirit of competition remains strong between fans of the teams, though, and now Colts fans may have to face an unthinkable paradigm shift:
Their beloved Peyton Manning might be donning a lighter shade of blue next year.
Word on the street is that Manning met with the Titans for a marathon seven-hour courtship sesh Wednesday, and that Titans owner Bud Adams offered Manning more than just the opportunity to play ball there for a few years. He wants to make Manning a Titan "for life."
"He is the man I want. Period," Adams told The Tennessean Sunday. "I want him to be with me the rest of his working period of his life, even when he doesn't want to play anymore."
This could mean a potential multi-year playing contract for Manning, who -- as long as he stays healthy -- would run that Titans offense for the next few years, while simultaneously grooming 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker to eventually take the helm. Upon hanging up his jersey, Manning could then take a job in the Titans front office. If Manning takes the job in Nashville, current Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be traded or cut. Hasselbeck still has two years left on his contract.
Even though he'd be playing for his former rivals, the move to Tennessee would be a sort of homecoming for Manning, who passed for 11,201 yards and 89 touchdowns in four years as a the University of Tennessee. Manning's former home of Knoxville is about three hours away from Nashville, but the former Volunteer still has a loyal fan base throughout the state.
Despite Adams's strong desire to nab Manning with a lifetime guarantee, three other teams are also heavily courting the NFL's hottest free agent. Manning met with the Broncos, Cardinals and Dolphins earlier this week, and it's still in the air which team he'll be leading next year.
In the meantime, Manning continues to work out with his former UT coach David Cutcliffe, now in charge of the Duke Blue Devils, in Raleigh.
Photo Credit: Colts.com