Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay have been doing a public relations dance over the past couple weeks as the deadline to pay the quarterback's bonus approaches. Instead of getting caught up in the Indianapolis Colts owner's web of double talk, Manning should just demand his release and move on.
Everybody, including fans of the Colts, understand the chances of Manning returning to the team next season are slim to none—and it's closer to none. There's no reason to keep playing it off as if the sides might suddenly reconcile and go back to the way things were.
Indianapolis is eyeing top prospect Andrew Luck with the top overall pick and, just like Manning, he'll be best off if he's thrown into the starting lineup right away. It doesn't make sense for the Colts to invest all of the resources necessary to keep both guys on the roster.
The only reason Manning probably hasn't demanded his release already is because he doesn't want to alienate a fan base that has treated him so well since 1998.
When it comes to that, though, the fans should have had more than enough time by now to understand Manning is likely heading elsewhere next season if he completely heals. They aren't going to unite against him for doing something everybody is expecting anyway.
Manning has accomplished so much with the Colts that it would be basically impossible for him to lose the respect of the team's fans. He brought them a Super Bowl and helped ensure they would get a new stadium, and thus get to host a Super bowl as well.
His statistics speak for themselves. He topped 4,000 yards passing in all but two seasons, and is just one touchdown pass away from 400. Before his neck injury, Manning was well on his way to passing virtually every important career passing record in the books.
If he's going to reach that goal now, it's going to be with a different franchise. So he needs to be released as soon as possible to start scouting out possible destinations.
NFL rules say other teams can't talk with a player under contract to another team, so Manning is in a holding pattern until he becomes a free agent.
By continuing to play Irsay's games, the only thing the elder Manning brother is doing is wasting his own time. He needs to be using all his energy to rehab so his arm strength returns to acceptable levels, not messing around with an owner.
The sooner Manning requests his release, the sooner everybody can move on. Otherwise this debacle will drag on for a couple more weeks and nobody involved should want to deal with that.