I’ve been a fan of Peyton Manning since he was drafted by the Colts in 1998. Since then Manning has been the league MVP four times, is an 11-time Pro Bowler, and has passed for over 4,000 yards in 11 of 12 seasons. He has also enjoyed great success off the field, even gracing a local children’s hospital with his name. He’s a likeable guy who happens to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Earlier this week, Manning said he might return before the season ends. And while that should make me happy, it doesn’t. Manning’s neck injury is too serious. To come back too early and risk ending his career is not worth it, especially since by then the Colts would be out of postseason contention. Instead, my plan for the Colts is not to win games this season.

If the Colts continue to lose, which seems to be a good possibility, we might just get to pick up Andrew Luck, the Stanford phenom, in the draft. Luck is purported to be the second coming of Indy’s beloved field general. In fact, he supposedly has a higher QB rating than Manning did at the same point in his career.

I’ll never stop being a Manning fan. With Manning under center the Colts became a football dynasty. His career is coming to an end, though, and after his injury he may never be the same. If this season has made anything clear, it is that the Colts organization has to think about the future.

The future as I see it is Manning coming back for a season or two to train Andrew Luck in the Colts offense. Manning would then retire, avoiding Brett Favre’s fate of being the tiresome old guy who won’t go away, instead retaining his Apollonian status in Indy and remaining one of the most respected QBs ever to play the game.

That would not end Manning’s involvement with the Colts, though. Far too brilliant a football mind to become a commentator, and far too loved for Indy to let him go, instead he would continue with the Colts organization as an offensive coordinator. With a future like that, watching Curtis Painter lose could actually mean that the Colts are in Luck.