Former Colts coach Jim Mora won’t return for Peyton Manning’s statue ceremony

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Former Colts coach Jim Mora said he won’t return to Indianapolis for Peyton Manning’s statue ceremony.

Mora said Manning invited him to the Oct. 7 unveiling in front of Lucas Oil Stadium, which includes a jersey retirement and a spot in the team’s ring of honor. But Mora, 82, apparently still holds bitter feelings about the way his four seasons in Indianapolis ended.

“I told him I wasn’t going to come,” Mora said in an interview with Indianapolis’ WNDE radio show via the Indianapolis Star. “I had reasons. I would love to come back there, but because of the way I left the Colts, my relationship with [former general manager Bill] Polian, I don’t know. I just wouldn’t feel that I would feel comfortable being there.”

Mora said the Colts fired him after the 2001 season when he refused to fire defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

“That’s exactly true,” Mora said. “I didn’t walk away, though. I got fired. It was either fire Vic or fire me. I was asked by Bill Polian — I was told by Bill Polian — he wanted me to fire Vic Fangio. I said, ‘Well, he doesn’t deserve to be fired.’ He’s an outstanding coach, was then and he still is. So we had talks with [owner] Jim Irsay, it came down, and I wouldn’t do it.

“I couldn’t fire a friend or a coach that I felt was very qualified that didn’t deserve to be fired. So I got fired. That was it.”