Out Of The Closet: Colts vs. Broncos Brings Back Jersey Debate

Need some help deciding which jersey to wear this week? Let Colts punter Pat McAfee help you decide.

Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis with the Broncos on Sunday. And with him, comes the ongoing debate of whether Colts fans should continue to wear the jersey of their beloved former quarterback.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of Manning fans, which is completely understandable because of his incredible history here in this city, the amazing things he’s done off the field, on the field, transforming the city into not only a basketball town, but Hoosiers accepting football and accepting us as Colts today even,” says McAfee.

It’s true. Manning helped make Indianapolis a city that not only accepts football, but embraces it. On game day, Lucas Oil Stadium is packed with jersey-wearing Colts fans. And this Sunday will be no different. Many of those jerseys will be current players. Some will be former players, Peyton Manning ranking highest among them.

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The fact that fans still choose to honor Peyton Manning by wearing his number 18 Colts jersey is understandable. But, says McAfee, it’s not ideal. Especially when Manning is calling out plays for the other team.

“Seeing that people still have a ton of love for you is an amazing thing, but when you’re trying to get an environment to be a hostile environment, which directly affects somebody, I think that’s the difference.”

McAfee acknowledges there’s a lot that goes into the decision, including cash – because jerseys aren’t cheap.

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“So, if somebody spent a lot of money on a jersey back in the day, and haven’t been able to get a new one and they wear a Manning jersey and it’s blue, I think we appreciate that. But if you have the choice between a couple, I think representing a current player is the way to go. I think it’s a good sign of loyalty, a good sign of fanhood, and most importantly, I think you’ll be more amped to yell at a guy who you aren’t wearing their jersey.”

Just like the fans, the players have differing opinions on the matter.

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Nose tackle Zach Kerr says he’d wear a Peyton Manning jersey himself, just not this week.

“I think it’s cool. He’s one of the greatest of my lifetime. So, I don’t think it’s a problem with wearing his jersey at all. At the end of the day, it’s a respect thing.”

McAfee appreciates the support of Colts fans and the money they spend supporting the team and its players. He has a habit of thanking the fans he meets who are wearing his jersey. And he says he’d be honored if they continued to do so.

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“But if I went to a different team and I was playing against the Colts and I saw a bunch of people wearing my jersey whenever I came home to play the Colts, I would appreciate the love and be so much more comfortable coming back into a place that I would hope the Colts wouldn’t want to be a comfortable environment.”

So, there you go. Something to think about as you plan your wardrobe for this weekend’s big game.

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I’ll be in my Andrew Luck jersey on Sunday.

What will you wear?