With the news today from the Associated Press that Peyton Manning will be out 2-3 months after undergoing cervical fusion surgery, the NFL and it's fans are left wondering if we will ever see Peyton Manning grace the gridiron as a player ever again.
Keep in mind, I'm a die-hard New England Patriots fan and despite how much our fans rag on him, this league is better with Manning and he is a big part of what makes the Colts-Patriots rivalry so special. For a man who has started 208 consecutive regular-season games, it comes as a shock to see it come to a sudden halt.
Just for comparison, the next in line for consecutive starts is Peyton's brother, Eli Manning, who currently sits at 103 consecutive regular-season starts...less than half.
Perhaps possessing the greatest football mind in the game today, Manning's presence on the football field will be sorely missed. No one will miss Manning more than his own fans, but it's so much deeper than that. The Colts' entire franchise rested on his shoulders and games that brought a Super Bowl feel, like the annual Colts-Patriots game, will mean next to nothing this December when we meet in Foxborough.
Batman needed the Joker, Superman needed Lex Luthor and Brady and the NFL need Peyton Manning.
Now if I'm a Colts fan, once I get over the grieving my next question is, "Why did it take us this long to get a definitive answer?"
There was an early report out of Indianapolis' ESPN Radio 1070 The Fan, that Manning would require season ending surgery, and Colts CEO Jim Irsay constantly took to Twitter (@JimIrsay) to shoot down any negative reports on the health status of Manning.
Irsay's words were secretive, cryptic and downright misleading, and Colts nation should be angry. If Irsay knew, which he did, the extent of Manning's injuries, he should've let his fans know about it. He owes it to those that spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to go see his team and expect to see number 18 on the field.
Instead, I saw this move by Irsay as a way to dismiss these reports as long as possible while ticket sales continued to flow in. No doubt if Irsay would have disclosed the amount of time Manning would be out, it would've cost Indianapolis some ticket revenue. That's a very shady front office tactic and leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.
Patriots fans know first hand what it's like to lose their star quarterback at the beginning of the year. It's not a fun experience and full disclosure is what everyone should expect.
With Irsay's questionable tactics not withstanding, Manning will be sorely missed for the time he is out this season. He is a legendary quarterback and I have the utmost respect for him, what he's done in this league and for his franchise.
He's a great quarterback and an even better ambassador for the game and I wish him a speedy recovery. I hope to see him in his normal blue and white sooner, rather than later...if ever.
Here's to you, number 18.