The once quintessential triple-threat in the NFL is now officially disbanded. While Edgerrin James left Indianapolis a couple years ago, we still had the pleasure of watching the tandem of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Now, even that, however, is history.
The Colts, stuck between a rock and a hard place, were for all intents and purposes forced to release Harrison Tuesday. Comprised of several former first round picks that have not disappointed the eternal bending of the salary cap finally snapped, and as any logic would follow, the veteran got the boot.
On Tuesday, when they announced the release. The press conference turned into a tribute of sorts to the career Harrison had with the blue and white. A tribute where the same men releasing him were at times choked up with emotion. Such a scene made a shocking story mix with a pinch of bizarre. Watching the likes of an NFL owner red-eyed over his own decision was kind of like seeing a boyfriend crying over his ex-girlfriend (no offense, Marvin) when he initiated the break up. Hopefully they'll skip the awkward "not returning each other's calls" phase.
But as wierd as yesterdays events were, they should be remembered moer for their significance. With the era of trades and free agency that we're in. It's rare that we see such a vivacious anchor on a team. A superstar that rarely complains about money, never has off-field issues, and year-in-and-year-out wears the same jersey. Only a handful comes to mind in recent history: Brett Favre, Mike Alstott, Donovan McNabb, Ray Lewis, Zach Thomas, Emmitt Smith, Steve Young.
What do all of these guys have in common? When they left a team, it made headlines. Not because they were stars (I mean, sure, there's that) but because they were icons; icons for a franchise not just on a local level, but on a national level. They went beyond the Rock Cartwright's (if you don't get the reference, you're only furthering my point), they represented their team on a national level. It doesn't take much a fan to know who Marvin Harrison is, and to picture him in the Colts' blue and white I guess is what I'm trying to say.
So what does this mean for Harrison? Will he retire? Will he go and learn the ins and outs of the free agency market? My guess is that he's not done. Guys like Harrison feel that they always have more in the tank than they tend to show. Unfortunately however, chances are his days on SportsCenter are past him.
If there was a person you could most closely compare him to, it might be Jerry Rice (another one of those home-team-favorite-superstars). A future hall of fame receiver who felt that his career with his primary team was cut short, and that he had more to offer the league. So he goes to Oakland and plays there for a few years. When his short shelf life in Oakland ran out, he tried Denver. But when he was told he'd be the number three wide receiver, he opted to hold onto his pride and retire.
If I had to bet, I would say that that is what will happen with Harrison. Play another three or four seasons with another team, someone looking for a veteran who not only can still play, but can mentor their young receiving corps., and then ultimately retire.
It'll be strange next season, if Harrison plays, that is, to see him in anything but that painfully tame royal blue and ivory white jersey. But if we learned anything from las toffseason with the Favre fiasco, it's that these things have to happen at some point. And for Marvelous Marv, that time was now.