Last September, I wrote, "There will be no miracle comeback, no last minute push to the playoffs nor any "rebuilding" next year. It's over. If Manning returns, he may not even be the same player he was before his injuries. God forbid if he doesn't. This tactical plan has run its course. It's time to clean house."
Those words have become increasingly true over the last few months, but came to complete fruition today as Jim Irsay and Petyon Manning stood side by side in an extremely emotional press conference announcing that the 14-year veteran and future hall-of-fame quarterback would no longer wear the horseshoe while under center in the NFL.
Manning and Irsay both held back tears while expressing their affection and gratitude for their 14-year personal relationship that developed far beyond the playing field.
I must say that I was touched, however not convinced.
A few weeks ago, Colts owner Jim Irsay, in a battle of words through the media, threw the ball back into Manning's court by saying that if Manning wanted to be a Colt, then he would be a Colt. Today, both parties said the money and the contract were never the issue. Both parties also continually expressed their affection for each other and the professional relationship.
If everyone wants it to work out and it's not about money, then what is it about? It's about smoke and mirrors.
The truth is that it is one or more of those three things. Either Irsay is moving on, Peyton is moving on and/or it is about the money. My guess is that it is about all of the above.
The Colts are rebuilding. They sank a lot of money into a quarterback that never took a snap after his big payday. His medical future is still unknown. It's hard to put all your eggs in a basket that you don't know will hold them or not.
Despite what Manning said today, he does have something to prove. He's a competitor. If competitors don't have something to prove, they find or create something to prove. He's listened to many people question his ability to come back and play. You know he personally has questioned his ability to come back and play.
Now, he's set out to prove to everyone he can not only come back and play, but can win!
But he's used to winning, and he knows his clock is indeed ticking. When camp opens he probably won't recognize well over half of the players. And many fans cheered, "Suck for Luck" throughout the season (alluding to intentionally losing to draft Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck).
Not exactly something to give Manning a warm and fuzzy feeling.
With all of that said, taking in to account all of the real facts and realizing all of the human factors that are involved, I can honestly say that none of it matters. That's business.
But what really does matter is the class that was displayed today. Despite their differences and realization that money makes the NFL's world go round, both men set everything aside and stood arm in arm facing what many have already heralded as the most monumental free agent moment in NFL history.
For a brief moment, they showed solidarity and the importance of what they have done and meant to each other over the past 14 years. One couldn't have done it without the other, and it was never more apparent than today.
Kudos to both of them in a world of Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder's and Terrel Owens and Ochocinco's; it's nice to see consideration, affection and allegiance take center stage today, especially under such complicated circumstances.
So if I may speak for all Colts fans, special thanks to both Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay for once again raising the bar on professionalism. And thanks even more for 14 glorious years full of memories. We will not forget.
Now, Peyton, let's talk about the San Francisco 49ers...
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