The unthinkable has finally happened. It’s surreal. One of those things that if somebody brought it up, you’d backhand them, stage an intervention, and force a drug test upon them. Unfortunately, it’s no longer unthinkable. It has actually happened.
The Indianapolis Colts have released Peyton Manning.
Manning resurrected the Colts franchise with his stellar play. He had a rocket-like arm, pin-point accuracy, and an Enstein-like knowledge of football. He was a general on the field. He was the offensive coordinator and the quarterback. He called the plays. Often, he called them after the defense was lined up and called a play based on how they were lined up.
Manning won the MVP a record four times. He led the Colts to the Superbowl twice, bringing home the Lombardi trophy once. He and the Colts went to the playoffs 9 consecutive years under his leadership and 11 times total. He threw for 4000 yards 11 times and briefly held the single-season touchdown mark with 49 touchdown tosses in 2004. He had never missed a game prior to the 2011 season, playing in 237 straight games. The accolades could go on for miles if I listed them all.
Unfortunately, for Peyton and the Colts, Peyton sustained a hit a few years ago that has caused chronic neck problems. Owner Jim Irsay signed Peyton to a huge contract right after the lockout ended last year knowing that Peyton might not play at all last season. Peyton had surgery on his neck during the lockout, his third. He then required a fourth procedure on his neck during the preseason. Manning ended up not playing at all last season while earning $26 million for doing so.
Manning was due $28 million from the Colts this year if he was still on the roster at 4PM today. Without having any reason to know or believe that Peyton was healthy or could throw a football with any velocity or accuracy, owner Jim Irsay had to make the gut-wrenching business decision to cut Manning. He simply couldn’t throw away $28 million on a quarterback that may never play again, or a quarterback that may play again but play ineffectively. The release went down to the wire, I believe, because Irsay was attempting to convince Manning to either restructure his contract or delay the deadline that would trigger his $28 million payment so they could assess his health. It appears that Manning was not interested in doing either.
Irsay did what he had to do. It makes no sense to pay that much money for a product that’s not guaranteed to work properly.
As many as 14 teams are reportedly interested in acquiring Peyton’s rights. Some teams, such as the Seahawks and Redskins, are reportedly ready to fork over a colossal pile of cash for Peyton. I just don’t get it. Every report that has escaped from Peyton’s rehab efforts has stated that Peyton’s throws are not NFL caliber throws. He’s nowhere near 100% Do you think the Colts would’ve release him if he was?
Manning and Irsay held a joint press-conference yesterday to announce Peyton’s release. Irsay publicly thanked Manning for all 14 years of service and for all of the great things his done on and off the field. An emotional Manning thanked Irsay, his teammates, and the Indianapolis fans.
The Peyton Manning era is over in Indianapolis. I, no doubt along with all NFL fans, thought that the Manning era would only end with his retirement.
I wish Manning luck with his recovery and hopefully he is able to return to full strength. I truly believe that Manning deserves at least one more Superbowl trophy. He is, statistically, one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game.