1/27/2012 7:32 PM
We’ve all known for some time now that Peyton Manning probably wouldn’t be taking the field in Indianapolis again as their starting quarterback. Huge fans like me have been hoping and wishing that some act of God would heal the four-time league MVP’s neck and return one of football’s most legendary players to their starting roster. But, with each week that’s gone by, the chances of a miracle seem to slip away.
Peyton Manning, one of history’s greatest quarterbacks, has not been officially cut from the Indianapolis Colts yet, but based on recent interviews with Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, owner Jim Irsay and Manning both feel the end of a 14 season career coming to an end.
When asked if fans should accept that there’s a legitimate chance that Manning’s name won’t be on the roster for the 2012 season, Jim Irsay offered these words. While they are honest, they don’t provide a bit of comfort to fans who have been biting their nails for months, praying for the player’s return.
"Well, I think fans have already understood that. This is a neck, not an ankle, not a shoulder. Often times the NFL is criticized for putting people out there and for putting them at risk. I'm not going to do that...What he's done for the city, the state, what he means to me and our fans, we're not going to be in that situation. I just think him and I have to talk and see where his health is and go from there."
Manning underwent his third neck surgery in 19 months just before the 2011 season kicked off. His recovery has been anything but speedy, and there would absolutely be risks involved with him taking the field again. Like Irsay implied, this is a serious injury that could completely alter Manning’s way of life if precautions aren’t taken. As a fan, I can honestly say that there has been a solid understanding that #18 might not be taking the field next season, but like most others I’ve repressed that reality because Manning’s talent, abilities and big heart have been a huge reason why Indianapolis has been such a fantastic team to root for over the last 14 seasons.
"I just want to keep rehabbing and working hard, and when the time is right for Mr. Irsay and I to sit down, I look forward to a healthy conversation about my future,” said Manning. “I've worked too hard and have such great respect and have so many great relationships inside the building and out, and it's incredibly important that those remain."
As a result of Manning’s slow recovery, which prevented the star quarterback from playing, the Colts had their worst season in two decades. This led to some major staffing changes that have left Colts fans nervous and the team on eggshells. Bill and Chris Polian were fired first, and after hiring 39-year-old Ryan Grigson as the new general manager, Coach Jim Caldwell was cut from the team as well. Just yesterday, the team announced that former defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens Chuck Pagano would be replacing Caldwell as head coach. Manning made several comments implying that the environment the Colts are currently in is not the best place for healing. This negative implication really cut into Irsay.
"He's a politician,” said Irsay, after referring to Manning as part of the family. “When it comes to being competitive on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the highest, we're both 11s. There have been plenty of eggshells scattered around this building by him (Manning) with his competitive desire to win.
"I don't think it's in the (best) interest to paint the Horseshoe in a negative light, I really don't. . . The horseshoe always comes first. One thing (Manning has) always known, and he's been around it so long, you keep it in the family. If you've got a problem, talk to each other. It's not about campaigning or anything like that."
Manning humbly responded, clarifying that he wasn’t trying to express any ill-will toward the team or franchise, but that watching all these people, who have been essential to the Colts’ success in past years, get fired one after another isn’t an easy thing to observe.
"At this point, Mr. Irsay and I owe it to each other and to the fans of the organization to handle this appropriately and professionally, and I think we will. I've already reached out to Mr. Irsay,” said Manning. “I wasn't trying to paint the Colts in a bad light, but it's tough when so many people you've known for so long are suddenly leaving. I feel very close to a lot of these guys and we've done great things together. It's hard to watch an old friend clean out his office. That's all I was trying to say.”
Manning expressed his desire to separate the personal and the business, but it looks like the two have already melded into each other. Though this isn’t an official announcement declaring the end of a football legend’s career, that’s certainly what it feels like. The Colts are a team that I’ve spent years watching and cheering for. Though there have been tons of games where I lost my voice yelling at Manning’s picture on the TV for not playing his best, or making stupid plays, I will be absolutely crushed to see him go.
The 14 seasons that he has given the team have been nothing but his best effort, and his absence this season proved that he is the main reason that the team was so strong in the past. There is no doubt that Indy is losing one of history’s best football players this season. As for Manning, I hope he retires as a lifetime Colts player, but if he chooses to put on another team’s uniform, I hate to say it, but I’ll still be rooting for him.
Sources: Indianapolis Star
Photo Source: Indianapolis Star
Posted by Jillian
1/27/2012 7:32 PM |