INDIANAPOLIS – As the 1998 NFL Draft neared, Peyton Manning did his homework. He always did his homework.
Was the University of Tennessee All-America quarterback headed to the Indianapolis Colts as the 1st overall pick? The San Diego Chargers?
At some point, Manning’s interest narrowed to one spot on the NFL map: Indy.
“It was the Midwest,’’ he said. “It was closer to Knoxville, closer to New Orleans where I grew up,’’ he said.
But there was more.
“One of the reasons I was excited about possibly being drafted by the Colts was there were good pieces in place, right?’’ Manning said.
Marshall Faulk, Marvin Harrison. And Tarik Glenn.
Faulk and Harrison offered the explosive options for a rookie quarterback. Each was in the infancy of Hall of Fame careers.
At the time, Glenn offered more.
“I knew who Tarik was,’’ Manning said. “I knew they just picked him in the first round; he and Adam (Meadows) in the first and second rounds.
“If we didn’t have Tarik, I’m not sure it would have changed anything, but I think I might not have been as excited. You have a first-round pick as your left tackle from the year before.
“For a quarterback that’s right-handed, that’s a relief.’’
After starting 16 games at right guard as a rookie because of protracted training camp negotiations, Glenn settled in at left tackle in 1998. He would start 138 of 144 games over the next nine seasons – he started all 16 games eight times – before retiring in the ’07 offseason following the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears.
“He was a hard worker,’’ Manning said. “Gosh, he was so athletic, the way he moved for a guy that size. Just super dependable, accountable.
“Always there at left tackle. Always answered the bell.’’
Sunday, Manning, Harrison, Edgerrin James, Jeff Saturday, and a slew of other franchise icons will converge on Lucas Oil Stadium as Glenn is inducted into the Ring of Honor at halftime of the Colts-Washington Commanders game.
Reggie Wayne obviously will be there in his role as the team’s receivers coach.
“I hope it’s a (record)-breaking number of guys coming back,’’ Wayne said, “because Tarik was that dude. Tarik should have been in there a long time ago. For whatever reason, he wasn’t.
“Trying to get Frank to let me go on the sidelines and leave the locker room.’’
That’s the level of admiration for Glenn and the part he played in the Colts’ transformation from NFL afterthought to perennial contender to, finally, world champions.
“This is a no-brainer decision by the Colts,’’ Manning said.
Jeff Saturday, Manning’s Pro Bowl center and Glenn’s long-time o-line colleague, agreed.
“There’s a reason you go up in that Ring of Honor,’’ he said. “He’s earned every bit of it.
“He did it. He stood the test of time.’’
Glenn: Indy home away from home
Glenn has been involved in several of these occasions when one of his former teammates – Manning, Harrison, James, Wayne, Saturday, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Tony Dungy, Bill Polian – had their names added to the Ring of Honor. There was the 10th anniversary of the Super Bowl XLI championship reunion, and Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.
Sunday afternoon is Tarik Glenn’s time.
“Aw man, it’s definitely an honor,’’ he said. “I played my whole career for this franchise. To be acknowledged as one of the greatest players that played for the franchise is just an honor.
“I’m grateful. I’m excited.’’
He’s eager to reunite with former teammates, coaches, and team employees.
At times, Glenn feels like an “outlier.’’ He and his family live in Berkley, Ca., and works at Cal, his alma mater, dealing with young athletes as deputy director of operations and strategic planning.
“I tend not to see many of my former teammates,’’ Glenn said. “Me and Larry Tripplett both live in the Bay Area. We’re really good friends. I see him every week.
“But I’m really excited to reunite with a lot of my teammates. What we had was special.’’
And he’s eager to get something off his chest regarding the city.
“I’m looking forward to getting a chance to thank the city of Indianapolis,’’ said Glenn. “The way you go out as a professional athlete, no matter how it goes, you never really get a chance to say ‘thank you.’ I’ll have a platform to tell the city of Indianapolis ‘thank you,’ Colts’ fans ‘thank you,’ Jim Irsay and the Irsay family ‘thank you.’
“That means the most to me. The city raised me. I became an adult in Indianapolis. The success on the field is the culmination of all of your experiences. I lived in Indianapolis. It wasn’t just a pit stop for me.’’
When the Colts selected Glenn with the 19th overall pick in the 1997 draft, he was joining a franchise coming off a 9-7 record and playoff appearance in. But Glenn’s first two seasons were rife with growing pains: a pair of 3-13 records.
Then, everything took off. From 1999-2006, the Colts went 92-52, tied with New England for the best mark in the NFL. They reached the playoffs in seven of eight seasons, won the AFC South five times, and whipped the Bears on a rainy night in South Florida for the franchise’s first world title in three decades.
“When I got to the Colts, Jim Irsay was a newer owner and I started to see the metamorphosis of the franchise, really transforming from being an OK franchise to a championship franchise,’’ Glenn said. “It changed throughout the course of my career.
“Being a part of something special, I just fell into that. I didn’t know what I was being drafted into, but now that I’m looking back, it was definitely a special team.’’
Glenn: On an island
Tom Moore remains one of the NFL’s greatest offensive minds. Players over plays, he insisted. Keep it simple – Harrison always was split out wide right – and keep your foot on the pedal. Give Manning four or five options on every play.
That meant relying on the offensive line to protect the franchise QB with little help from a running back or tight end. And for Glenn to protect Manning’s blindside.
Did the Colts ever give Glenn help?
“No. Never. Never,’’ Manning said. “What a luxury for a coordinator and a quarterback to not have to keep a back in to chip or a tight end in to affect that outside rusher.
“When you’re doing that, it’s because you have to. It’s because that tackle needs help. Tarik didn’t need help.’’
That wasn’t the norm.
“Please, man,’’ Saturday said. “I remember hearing coaches talk about game plans where they would slide to protect guys. Even when I went to Green Bay, we’d slide the protection towards Julius Peppers.”
“The entire time I was in Indy we never had those conversations. It was ‘Tarik, you’re going to block that guy, and you’re going to block him until the fourth quarter ends.’ We trusted he could get his job done. It was never about we were overly concerned Tarik couldn’t block his guy.’’
Glenn insisted there were rare occasions when Moore gave him assistance in pass protection.
“Any offensive tackle that says they went their entire career without any help is lying to you,’’ he said. “But at the same time, I do feel that offense put a lot of trust in us doing our job up front.’’
That was especially true with Glenn. He recalled how Moore expressed his confidence in him at an early phase of his career.
“He probably doesn’t know this, but he gave me so much confidence as a very young player,’’ Glenn said.
At one point, the Colts were preparing for the Buffalo Bills, who featured all-time sack leader Bruce Smith.
“Tom said, ‘Hey, Tarik. Hey, 78, we’ve got Bruce Smith this week and I’m not giving you any help,’’’ Glenn said with a laugh. “And we played Bruce Smith twice a year.
“I grew up with Bruce Smith on my wall. For real. For Tom to say that just spoke so much to how much faith he had in my potential.’’
With Glenn at left tackle from 1998-2006, Manning won two MVPs and attempted 5,009 passes, 4th-most in the league over that stretch. His pass protection allowed just 177 sacks, fewest in the league and 65 fewer than No. 2 Green Bay.
Yes, Glenn was notorious for his false starts. But the number of times Manning was whacked from his blindside was few.
“You never doubted he’d do his job,’’ Manning said.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.