American Football

Colts Schedule Reveals that New Ring of Honor Member May Be Inducted. Who’s Next?


Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts vs Chicago Bears
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There’s still a few key holdovers from the Colts’ Super Bowl era that are well deserving of being enshrined into the franchise’s illustrious Ring of Honor.

The Indianapolis Colts revealed their gameday themes for the upcoming 2023 season, and it looks like another franchise Ring of Honor member may be inducted before the team’s Week 7 game against the Cleveland Browns—which is listed as “Reveal July 17”:

Colts blindside franchise left tackle Tarik Glenn was the last member of the franchise’s impressive Ring of Honor to be inducted—and that was during Week 8 of last season.

Right now, the Colts still have a few key members from that infamous 2006 team that won the Super Bowl to wrap up before moving onto some of the more modern era candidates such as potentially Pat McAfee, Andrew Luck, Anthony Castonzo, and for sure T.Y. Hilton, whenever he ultimately retires. (Keep in mind, I said ‘potentially’ here before starting some sort of unnecessary flame war. Let’s please stick to the topic at hand).

So without further ado, here are the top candidates to be enshrined into Colts football immortality—which team owner Jim Irsay reportedly has a big—and rightfully, the final say in:

Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts vs Chicago Bears
Photo by Matt Detrich/Getty Images

Dallas Clark, Tight End (2003-11)

Drafted by the Colts in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Iowa, the 6’3”, 252 pound Clark became arguably one of the inaugural modern day receiving tight end prototypes—who was much more of a slot wide receiver than in-line blocker in playing style and ability.

Known for his ‘gloveless’ sure-hands and high-end ability to provide legendary Colts quarterback Peyton Manning a reliable security blanket and seam stretcher inside, Clark become one of the most productive tight ends of his era—even if he wasn’t quite consistently Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates within the AFC positional pecking order.

Even if he resembled a linebacker himself at times, he was a major mismatch in coverage. Too big for slot cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers to handle.

Clark became an NFL First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler for the Colts in 2009 and was a Super Bowl XLI Champion—and he had a critical catch in the Divisional Round against the Baltimore Ravens with a linebacker/safety draped all over him that I’ll simply never forget.

In Colts history, Clark ranks all-time: 5th in receptions (427), 9th in receiving yards (4,887), and 7th in touchdown receptions (46) during his 9-year playing career in Indianapolis.

AFC Conference Championship - New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts - January 21, 2007
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Bob Sanders, Safety (2004-10)

‘The Hitman’ . . . ‘The Eraser’, whatever you want to call him, Sanders was simply trouble for opposing offenses—as he’s the last thing the ball carrier wanted to see flying at him in space or as a heat seeking missile in the hole before delivering total knockout blows.

In fact, sometimes they may have never seen him coming at all as a banshee at safety before, as the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry now infamously gestures these days, it was ‘Night-Night.’

He definitely outplayed his draft position as a former 2nd round pick (Pick #44) of the Colts out of Iowa, like Clark, back in the 2004 NFL Draft—even if they had to wait out some initial leg/foot injuries suffered from college.

One of my favorite quotes I love the most is that for the Colts, having Sanders return late in their title season for their once struggling run defense was like “having their big brother show up to the playground fight.” He instantly transformed their entire defense and was a catalyst in their improbable 2006 Super Bowl run. Without his return, the Colts do not win a Super Bowl that year. His presence and dynamic playmaking on the backend changed the entire identity and feeling of that defense—particularly against the opposing ground game.

When fully healthy—which granted wasn’t all that often, Sanders was as elite as any NFL safety in his era—including future NFL Hall of Famers Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. His career was unfortunately cut short by injuries, as maybe players of his shorter size aren’t supposed to be that strong, fast, and athletic, but boy did his peak ever burn bright for Indianapolis.

Still one of the biggest Colts fan favorites in Indy folklore, call him Paul ‘Bob Sanders’ Bunyan (*I still have my white #21 jersey purchased in high school from his playing career), Sanders is the only player in Horeshoe franchise history to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2007). He was also a 2x NFL First-Team All-Pro and NFL Pro Bowler for Indianapolis.

Sanders finished his 7-year Colts career with 295 tackles (222 solo), 3.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, and 4 fumble recoveries during 48 games (46 career starts). He was as big of a difference maker and playmaker as I’ve ever seen defensively at the NFL level.

Bob was a boss.

Super Bowl XLI - Indianapolis Colts vs Chicago Bears
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Adam Vinatieri, Placekicker (2006-19)

While Justin Tucker may be the most physically gifted kicker in NFL history, Vinatieri is still the GOAT in my books from his legendary playoff heroics, elite consistency, and longevity. There was some thought at one point that like a fine wine, he might be still kicking for the Colts entering the year 2023 and at the ripe old age of 51—still aging rather gracefully.

Even though Vinatieri’s longtime and highly productive career with the Colts ended rather abruptly—just short of 600 made career field goals at 599 in 2019, likely because of a combination of father time finally catching up with him at age 47 and lingering hip/leg injuries, it’s not hard to forget how important he was for the franchise through the years.

(And yes, he’s now officially retired since May of 2021.)

As the volatile Mike Vanderjagt’s replacement in 2006—and poached from the rival New England Patriots, where he already showed he could make championship caliber kicks, Vinatieri ended up being one of the best free agent signings in Colts franchise history.

Like Sanders and Clark, the Colts do not win a Super Bowl in 2006 without him, especially regarding his 5 for 5 in made field goals against the Baltimore Ravens on the road in the Divisional Round during tough weather/field conditions—which were the only points Indianapolis managed to score in their narrow 15-6 victory, against a notoriously stingy Ray Lewis and Ed Reed-led defense.

Vinatieri became a team captain and locker room leader for the Colts, helping to bridge the gap between the Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck eras—along with other star holdovers such as Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis in that regard.

While he was impressive (and arguably already a Hall of Famer) before joining the Colts with the Patriots, he actually played more games in Indianapolis—and was an NFL First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler, as well as became the NFL’s all-time scoring leader with the Horseshoe.

He made 336 of 394 field goal attempts (85.3%) and 507 of his 524 PAT attempts (96.8%) in Indianapolis during his 14-year Indy career. The GOAT’s one of the best to ever do it at kicker, and believe it or not, the Colts franchise and fans ultimately won him over—that other team.

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