The superstar QB will end his incredible streak of 208-consecutive regular season starts, which is the most by any active player, on Sunday. Kerry Collins, the veteran QB that the Colts signed once they realized their stud quarterback was ailing, will start in his place against the Houston Texans.
You know the facts; Manning is a legend and nothing that I could ever say would diminish the impact that his career had on the NFL. His 49 touchdown season was one of the best that the NFL will ever see, his four MVP awards help him become known in the ranking in the best of all-time, and his Super Bowl ring helps ensure that there will forever be a spot in the Hall of Fame waiting for him.
These numbers that speak of his successes are purely undisputable facts.
There’s nothing to argue when you speak with facts.
Yet when I used new facts about Peyton Manning’s injury to argue my opinion, that Peyton Manning will disappoint more than any other player in the NFL this season, I was surprised to learn that so many people had entirely disagreed with me.
I’m rooting for Manning, one of the most charismatic and marketable quarterbacks that I will ever see in my lifetime, to succeed. But as I wrote on August 17th, “If I'm wrong about this being Peyton Manning's last year of dominance, please remove this article from the website, burn any printed copies and detach myself from the publishing of it. But here's the thing: I don't think I'm wrong.”
Here are five reasons why Peyton Manning’s recent neck surgery could prove certain doom for the superstar QB.
At 35 years old, Manning is not the same spring chicken that he was when he was drafted as the first overall pick out of the University of Tennessee.
As reader Mike Fox points out, “Manning had a knee surgery in 2008, he missed training camp and the preseason and his knee didn't heal fully until midway through the season. He was the league MVP.”
Mike is absolutely right; on July 14th, Manning needed surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee. He went on to start in all 16 games of the season; he threw for 4000-plus yards to match his 27 touchdowns, completed 66.8 percent of his passes and rightfully earned the NFL MVP Award.
In 2008, however, Manning was a younger football player.
Every NFL legend says the same thing. When asked what the first thing to do for an aging athlete is, they all respond with “recovery time." Nagging injuries that bother QBs when they’re 25 could ultimately be career threatening when these same players are 35.
Think of what most 35-year-old men are doing right now. Typically, at 35, the human body is slowing down. The body begins to move slower and wear down, smaller issues begin to take a toll on everyday life, partying has become less frequent if at all, and the energy level isn’t the same as it once was.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend like Manning has a typical life; he plays professional football for a living and is an elite athlete. His body, however, still has a similar curve that the rest of ours do.
Eventually, everything starts to slow down and it takes longer to nurse severe injuries like, say, two neck surgeries in back-to-back years.
This is definitely different from age, because age deals with recovery time. Games played, in turn, focuses on the type of weight that Manning has had to deal with in his tenure as an NFL QB.
Manning has been playing NFL defenses since 1999, and has been wearing a knee brace since college. He’s played 208 consecutive Sundays without a day off to recover or nurse from an injury.
It’s not easy being an NFL QB, and the injury curve can only hold on to a player like Manning for so long. Manning has already played as long, if not longer, than NFL legends like Joe Montana (192 GP), Steve Young (169 GP) and Troy Aikman (165 GP). Around the 200 games mark, where Manning is currently at, is where legends like Manning begin to fade. Johnny Unitas retired at 211 GP, John Elway retired at 234 GP, and Dan Marino retired at 242 GP.
At 35 years old and two consecutive neck surgeries, it’s difficult to gage how much juice Manning has left in the tank.
As any of the retired QBs on this list can tell you, it’s very difficult to go out there and get banged up every Sunday. Manning has now done this in three different decades, and it’s going to take a toll on even the most iron of men.
Quarterback is an especially brutal position, and players like Manning take a toll out on the field game after game. Remember what happened to Brett Favre last year. There was a moment in Minnesota when everyone watching him realized that he just didn’t have it any more. He was coming off an injury, had played in something like 1000 straight games, and his stuff wasn’t around to back him up. No one wanted to admit it with Favre, and Manning may have a similar future.
But one day, the inevitable will be coming. Even if no one else wants to admit it, his surgery doesn’t make us believe that it won’t be this year.
One thing that has recently arisen in the news is that the Colts team simply is not very good without Manning.
Having realized that they struck gold with the star QB, the Colts have done a very poor job in preparing for an age in which Manning is unable to play. As I pointed out earlier today, the Colts had the third worst rushing attack in the NFL last year. They aren’t able to get things started on the rush, and look unprepared for a season without their QB.
Since Manning’s draft in 1999, the Colts have drafted a total of two QBs: Jim Sorgi, a sixth-round pick in 2004, and Curtis Painter, a sixth-round pick in 2009. With Manning out, they had to sign a quick handicap in a retired Kerry Collins. The lockout made it even more difficult, as they hardly had time to prepare their QBs in the offseason.
Manning, who knew of his injuries going into the offseason, signed a lucrative $90 million dollar contract. As any capitalist knows, $90 million to Peyton Manning is $90 million dollars less that can go to helping the team. That’s a lot of money to shift to one player, especially one that is out indefinitely with another neck surgery.
Even if Manning were to come back soon, it would still be while recovering from an injury. The Colts having an aging receiver in Reggie Wayne, and their offensive line isn’t getting any younger. They also have a tough schedule (three of their next four games are against teams that had more than 10 wins in 2010, including a match against the Pittsburgh defense).
The Colts play in the AFC. In their division is the Houston Texans, which features last year’s best overall running back in Arian Foster as well as one of the best WRs in the game in Andre Johnson. To win their league, they have to beat strong defensive teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh. I simply don’t see it happening. This team is not prepared for success with Manning at anything less than 100 percent.
Five months ago, Manning had his second neck surgery in as many years. Perhaps due to trainers' situations out of his control because of the NFL lockout, Manning’s recovery was very slow.
As we learned via tweets from owner Jim Irsay this morning, “No. 18 is out for awhile.” Manning has not been placed on the injured reserves list yet, putting him out for the season, but the Colts are aware that Manning will be out indefinitely.
The question that is the most scary, when their star quarterback will return, is the one that no one seems to know.
“It is a little bit in the flux at this point, but I think we will have some more clarity here shortly,” writes Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell.
“I simply am not healthy enough to play,” said Manning, “but I am doing everything in my power to get my health back.”
No one knows when Manning is coming back, but to have a third neck surgery in two years, it’s increasingly obvious that this is a very severe injury.
Manning complains of very bad neck and back pains, and to maintain any success in the NFL, health in those areas is pivotal.
This isn’t the simple knee surgery that he had in 2008. This could potentially be career threatening. If he ends up recovering well, I’m rooting for the legend. Meanwhile, like the rest of Manning’s fans, I will have to tread cautiously.
The number one question in the NFL right now is about Peyton Manning’s return.
What turned from a relevant side note on the season has turned into the single biggest storyline in the NFL.
What people aren’t talking about yet, however, is what will happen when Manning does actually return. As a football fan, should we expect Manning’s production to be even similar to where it was this time last season?
If Manning is even able to play this season, how could we expect him to produce the numbers even comparable to last year, where he had 33 touchdowns, 4,700 yards and a 91.9 QB rating?
Manning had 42.4 attempts per game last year. Coming off of another neck surgery, how could he possibly maintain that type of production?
Let’s say he comes back to the Colts halfway through the season, which is a generous assumption.
Last year, the Colts went 10-6 with their star QB. Without him, it would be fair to say that the team could wind up at 2-6 at the midway point. This would mean that Manning would have helped them win a total of three games more than Kerry Collins would have.
With such an atrocious record, what is a recovering Peyton Manning playing for? His team is subpar, and the 10-6 type of records that he has brought the Colts in the past have come largely from the success of his fantastic play. This is not going to be Manning at 100 percent. To say that Manning will even be at 75% would be presumptuous.
No one knows what to expect from Manning, but if the neck surgery from today is any indication, I would say that this could doom the superstar QB.