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Ranking the 3 greatest quarterbacks in Indianapolis Colts history

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck
Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck

Whether the franchise was located in Baltimore or Indianapolis, the Colts have enjoyed some great players over the years, especially at the quarterback position. A franchise like the Colts, who’ve won three NFL championships and two Super Bowls, are bound to have a rich history of talented players.

Current University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh served as the Colts’ quarterback for a few seasons during the 90s. The Pro Bowler is known for leading the team to the 1995 AFC Championship Game, where they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While Harbaugh achieved success during his time in Indy, he isn’t one of the three greatest quarterbacks in Colts history. So who are the franchise’s top-three qb’s of all time?

Ranking the 3 greatest quarterbacks in Indianapolis Colts history

- #3 Andrew Luck

With Peyton Manning missing the entire season due to injury, the Colts suffered a miserable 2011 campaign, going 2-14. The team wound up with the top pick in the 2012 NFL draft, which they used to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

The Colts released Manning, who later signed with the Denver Broncos, and opted to build around the younger Luck.

Most fans were sad to see Manning leave town, but Luck would quickly help ease that pain with some magnificent performances. The Houston, Texas native had a remarkable rookie year, leading the Colts to 11 wins and a trip to the postseason.

Luck emerged as a star in Indianapolis, becoming a 4-time Pro Bowler and easily one of the league’s best signal callers. It looked like it was guaranteed that he’d eventually make the Football Hall of Fame. However, due to the Colts failing to assemble a quality offensive line to protect him, Luck ended up battling perennial injuries.

He finished his career having played only six NFL seasons, shocking the world when he announced his retirement in 2019. He’s now one of the biggest “what-if?” stories in sports history.

Breaking: Andrew Luck has informed the Colts he is retiring from the NFL, a league source tells @AdamSchefter.There will be a press conference Sunday to make it official, but Luck is mentally worn down, and now checking out. https://t.co/9qwpWjfdYX

- #2 Johnny Unitas

A close up of the late Hall of Fame Quarterback Johnny Unitas, formerly of the Baltimore Colts,
A close up of the late Hall of Fame Quarterback Johnny Unitas, formerly of the Baltimore Colts,

Hopefully, you weren't expecting Curtis Painter or Carson Wentz next. If you were then you will be sorely disappointed (as neither man has made this list).

At No.2 we go to a Colt who starred when the franchise was in Baltimore. Johnny Unitas is widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever set foot on a football field.

He played with the Colts from 1956 to 1972, leading the club to three NFL championships and a Super Bowl victory. As a Colt, Unitas won three MVP awards, made 10 Pro Bowls and led the NFL in passing touchdowns four years in a row.

The Hall of Famer set the record for most consecutive contests with a touchdown pass at 47. It would take 52 years for his record to be broken (by Drew Bress in 2012 with 54).

- #1 Peyton Manning

Back in 1998, the Colts, who owned the first overall pick in the draft, had a tough decision to make. Which quarterback should they select: Tennessee’s Peyton Manning or Washington State’s Ryan Leaf?

However, as the story goes, the team obviously went with Manning in what proved to be one of the best decisions in franchise history. Unfortunately, Leaf would go on to become one of the biggest NFL busts of all time.

Indianapolis @Colts unveil Peyton Manning statue with ceremony: on.nfl.com/gHtVDa #ThankYouPeyton https://t.co/odDU5IwG8D

Manning spent 14 seasons as Indy’s star quarterback, leading the team to two Super Bowls, winning one of them. He also took home four regular-season MVPs and a Super Bowl MVP during his time in the Hoosier State.

Despite playing his last four seasons with the Broncos, Manning will always be better known for his tenure as a Colt. He is perhaps the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, not named Joe Montana or Tom Brady.

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Edited by David Nyland
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