Colts need to thin the Ring of Honor herd – I start with Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh’s 1995 season was worthy of a cover on a weekly magazine not a place of eternal honor.

Owner Jim Irsay announced last night that Dwight Freeney would be the next former Colt honored with membership in the team’s Ring of Honor.

No doubt Freeney is worthy.  A great sack artist during the 2000s, Freeney was the straw that stirred the Colts defensive drink during two Super Bowl runs.  He posted double-digit sack totals in seven of his 10 seasons with the Colts, and totaled 125 1/2 sacks during his career – 107 1/2 with the Colts.

Freeney was a three-time first team All-Pro and was named to seven Pro Bowls.  THAT is a Ring of Honor resume’!

Freeney will be the 16th honoree in the Ring of Honor, joining Robert Irsay (1996), WR-Bill Brooks (1998), Head Coach Ted Marchibroda (2000), OL-Chris Hinton (2001), QB-Jim Harbaugh (2005), “Colts Nation” (2007), Head Coach Tony Dungy (2010), WR-Marvin Harrison (2011), RB-Edgerrin James (2012), RB-Eric Dickerson and RB-Marshall Faulk (2013), C-Jeff Saturday (2015), General Manager Bill Polian (2016), QB-Peyton Manning (2017) and WR-Reggie Wayne (2018).

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That’s quite a group.  Actually, it’s two groups – those prior to Tony Dungy, and those after.  The Colts were a dominant team in the 2000s filled with a bunch of likable and excellent players.  All of those beginning with Dungy are or should be Pro Football Hall of Famers.  Those before are just a little bit different.

Some belong, and others – like Al Czervik in Caddyshack – don’t.

The time has come to thin the herd.  I would immediately dispatch “Colts Nation”.  That’s pandering to fans at a level that should humiliate everyone involved – even the fans it’s meant to honor.

Ted Marchibroda is never going to be mentioned among all-time great NFL coaches.  He had a brilliant offensive mind, but when experts are asked to name the top 10 coaches in NFL history, Marchibroda would never be considered.  But he led the Irsay-owned Colts to their two best runs (1975-1977 and 1993-1995, although 1993 and 1994 were not great).

Hinton and Brooks are OK.  Neither played their entire careers in Indianapolis, but the Colts needed to put somebody up there, and if not Hinton and Brooks, who?

That leaves Harbaugh, and he is clearly the least of the players in the Ring of Honor.  if we are going to start evicting occupants in order to welcome others, Harbaugh should be the first player to go.

His career in Indianapolis spanned four seasons (1994-1997), only 46 starts, and a completely mediocre 20-26 record.  The Colts improbable march to a thrilling AFC Championship Game after the 1995 season was important in the evolution of the city’s love of football and the Colts, but one shining season doesn’t warrant a position for Harbaugh alongside Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and the rest.

The Colts Ring of Honor no longer needs to celebrate mediocrity, so it shouldn’t.

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