INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts franchise has treated its fans to lots of winning football over the years.
But they’ve also been treated to quite a few notable characters.
On or off the field, all kinds of Colts players and coaches have entertained the masses, either through their playing style, their antics on the sideline (and in front of the media) or by showing off their acting chops on the big (or little) screen.
And on Friday night, six of those notable former Colts were highlighted as the NFL unveiled Nos. 31-100 in its “NFL 100 Greatest Characters List,” the latest celebration of the league’s 100th season.
Those Colts characters mentioned included Bubba Smith (No. 42), Peyton Manning (47), Ted Hendricks (48), Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb (59), Tony Siragusa (71) and Jim Mora (78):
No. 42 — Bubba Smith
Smith was a talented defensive end that went No. 1-overall to the Baltimore Colts in the 1967 NFL Draft. He played five seasons in Baltimore (1967-71) and was named to two Pro Bowls (1970, 1971) and was also selected First-Team All-Pro in 1971, and second-team all-Pro in 1968 and 1970. A key member of the Colts’ Super Bowl V championship team, Smith would go on to enjoy a successful acting career; he earned notoriety on TV from his Miller Lite commercials, but perhaps his best role was on the big screen, as Smith famously played Moses Hightower in the Police Academy series. Smith passed away in 2011 at the age of 66.
No. 47 — Peyton Manning
Manning is undoubtedly one of the NFL’s more notable “characters” of the past quarter-century, as he has been able to parlay his success on the field into all kinds of notable roles on TV. The No. 1-overall pick of the Colts in the 1998 NFL Draft, Manning would go on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history; by the time he retired following the 2015 season, he was the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing touchdowns (539) and passing yards (71,940); single-season passing touchdowns (55) and yards (5,477); wins (201, including playoffs); game-winning drives (56); comeback wins (45); four-plus touchdown passes in a game (35); 4,000-plus yard passing seasons (14); consecutive seasons with at least 25 passing touchdowns (13); and most Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player awards (5; 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013). In 2017, a Manning statue was unveiled outside of Lucas Oil Stadium on a day that he also had his No. 18 retired by the Colts and was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. Off the field, Manning has famously pedaled a number of mainstream products in commercials, he’s hosted Saturday Night Live and the ESPYS and he’s also appeared as a guest star in a number of TV shows — and even lended his voice to an animated character in the movie Ferdinand.
No. 48 — Ted Hendricks
Nicknamed “The Mad Stork,” Hendricks was a feared linebacker over the course of 14 seasons with the Baltimore Colts (1969-73, Green Bay Packers (1974) and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1975-83). Over his career, Hendricks — a second-round pick by the Colts in the 1969 draft — racked up eight Pro Bowl selections (including three with the Colts), four First-Team All-Pro selections (one in Baltimore) and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team; he was also a First-Team NFL All-Decade Team selection in both the 1970s and 1980s. Hendricks — a four-time Super Bowl champion, including in the 1970 season with the Colts — was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
No. 59 — Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb
Lipscomb’s mixture of size (6 foot 6, 306 pounds) and speed along the defensive line was revolutionary in the 1950s, and he certainly used it to his advantage as a member of the Los Angeles Rams (1953-55), Baltimore Colts (1956-60) and Pittsburgh Steelers (1961-62). Lipscomb never played college football, but he was a standout with the Marines on the Camp Pendleton football squad, and eventually signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent. But it was with the Colts where Lipscomb really flourished; a two-time NFL champion (1958-59), Lipscomb was named to three Pro Bowls (two with the Colts) and was named First-Team All-Pro twice (1958-59). Lipscomb, who also spent part of his offseasons as a professional wrestler, died tragically in 1963 at the age of 31.
No. 71 — Tony Siragusa
Nicknamed “Goose,” it’s hard not to envision Siragusa when compiling a list of the NFL’s greatest characters. Signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Pittsburgh in 1990, Siragusa would go on to play seven seasons with the Colts before wrapping up his career with five more careers with the Baltimore Ravens, where he would go on to win the championship in Super Bowl XXXV. He finished his career having racked up 562 tackles, 22 sacks, nine fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles and 28 passes defensed in 170 career games before embarking on a notable career as an NFL sideline reporter and analyst, which has parlayed into several roles on TV and in movies.
No. 78 — Jim Mora
Though mainstream audiences might best know him for his “Playoffs?!” rant back in 2001, Mora was an extremely successful college and NFL coach in a career that spanned four decades from 1961 through 2001. He broke into the NFL as a defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks in 1978, but he’ll forever be known in New Orleans as the man who dug the Saints out of ineptitude; during the team’s first 19 NFL seasons, it had never turned in a winning record, and finished .500 twice. But Mora would go on to post a 93-74 record as the Saints’ head coach from 1986-96, leading them to the playoffs four times. Mora spent the last four years of his coaching career with the Colts, leading them to a 32-32 overall record and two playoff appearances from 1998 through 2001.