Colts Savoring Chance to Play in Game, See Hall of Fame
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – To quarterback Jim Sorgi, it's an opunity and more.
To linebacker Freddy Keiaho, the Colts' participation in the NFL's preseason opener is a chance to not only prepare in the present, but honor the past.
To offensive tackle Ryan Diem, it's a chance for some players to glimpse to the future.
No matter who you talked to around the Colts this past week, this much was clear:
The Hall of Fame Game is more than a game. A lot more.
"It's big time," Sorgi, who will make his third career preseason start when the Colts play the Washington Redskins in the 2008 Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday at 8 p.m.
"You're representing everybody who played before you and kind of paved the way to be here. It's an honor for me and all the other guys to play in it."
For the Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions and the Super Bowl champions following the 2006 season, the game is the first of seven primetime, nationally- televised regular- or pre-season appearances this season.
They will play the Buffalo Bills in a preseason game on the NFL Network on September 24 in the first NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium, and two weeks later, they open the regular season against the Chicago Bears in primetime on NBC on Sunday, September 7.
It's also their first game since 1998 with quarterback Peyton Manning unavailable.
Manning, the Colts' first-round selection in the 1998 NFL Draft, has started every Colts regular-season game in his career, and while has been held out of the Colts' last three preseason finales, the eight-time Pro Bowl selection never has missed a regular- or preseason game because of injury.
Manning, who underwent surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee 10 days before training camp, is expected back within 4-to-6 weeks of the surgery. He is one of six Colts players on the Physically Unable to Perform list who will miss Sunday's game, the club announced Saturday.
Safety Bob Sanders, defensive end Dwight Freeney, tight end Tom Santi, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler and offensive guard Ryan Lilja.
The club also announced Saturday the following players will miss Sunday: linebacker Gary Brackett (groin), safety Melvin Bullitt (thumb), cornerback Michael Coe (knee), wide receiver Marvin Harrison (knee), defensive end Ben Ishola (ankle), linebacker Clint Session (calf) and linebacker Philip Wheeler (knee).
But the game is only part of the story for the Colts this weekend.
On Saturday, Colts rookies and various coaches and veterans will tour the Hall, with Sorgi, Keiaho and Diem among the veterans saying this week they planned to participate in the tour.
"We're fans of the game," said Sorgi, a fifth-year veteran. "We're students of the game. We like the history as well as the present. We're going to go enjoy it, then when the whistle blows and the ball is kicked, we're going to go play football."
Keiaho, a second-year veteran from San Diego State, said the trip will be an opportunity "to pay homage to all the football players from the past.
"You grow up hearing about these guys," Keiaho said. "There are amazing stories, and to go and see that, it will be real humbling."
Said Diem, an eight-year veteran, "It's an honor to even be able to go check it out. We're going on a very important weekend. I've never really had the opportunity. I don't get to Canton much, but this is a great opportunity for everyone on the team to go check it out and see what you're shooting for.
"As far as personal goals, that's the pinnacle of everyone's goal I would imagine."
Dungy, who coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1998 Hall of Fame Game, said this week if Colts players don't yet have a full appreciation for the Hall and the history, they likely will by the end of the weekend.
"I don't know if they sense it yet," Dungy said. "Especially our young guys, when they see some of the exhibits and see some of the guys who are in there, it will be a little bit special. The couple of times that I have been there as a coach, when you go out, play the game, and you're being introduced and they bring the inductees in between the two teams, it will be a special moment.
"Hopefully, our guys will have a feel of what they'll be a part of."
Also, the Colts have signed kicker Adam Crossett and released Tala Esera, Dungy said Saturday.