Reggie Wayne surely knew the weight of his comment regarding Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning. Wayne, a six-time Pro Bowler during his 14-year run with the Colts, enjoyed a highly successful partnership with Manning, whose success in Indianapolis has been immortalized in the form of a statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Wayne sees similar greatness in Ryan, who came to Indianapolis this offseason after putting together a Hall of Fame caliber career with the Falcons.
"It makes me throw up how much he reminds me of Peyton," Wayne said, via Zak Keefer of The Athletic.
That's certainly music to Colts' fans ears who remember Manning's magical run with the franchise. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, Manning led the Colts to 11 playoff berths, eight division titles, two AFC titles and a win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Manning, who led a prolific offense in Indianapolis that also includes the talents of Wayne, fellow receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Edgerrin James, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer.
Ironically, Manning was Ryan's age (36) when he left the Colts during the 2011 offseason. Manning finished his career with the Broncos, leading Denver to two Super Bowls and a win over the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, his final game under center. Ryan, who six years ago led the Falcons to the franchise's second Super Bowl berth, is looking to help get the Colts get back to being one of the NFL's upper echelon teams. Indianapolis has not advanced beyond the divisional round of the playoffs since 2014, when Andrew Luck helped the Colts upset Manning's Broncos en route to an AFC Championship Game appearance.
In leading the Colts to a Super Bowl win, Ryan would also erase his name from the list of Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks who have not won a Super Bowl, a list that includes former Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, who retired after leading Indianapolis to its most recent playoff appearance.
Speaking of Rivers, Colts owner Jim Irsay feels that Ryan's stay in Indianapolis will be considerably longer than the one-year Rivers spent with the franchise in 2020. Irsay is hoping that Ryan's stay in Indianapolis mirrors the amount of time Manning spent in Denver before calling it a career.
"We hope Matt can be here for four years, maybe," Irsay said, via ESPN. "We certainly have our radar out for a young guy that can be the long-term future."