Jim Irsay has teetered back and forth as to whether or not Peyton Manning will be back this season.
Former reporter and current Indiana University graduate student Josh Weinfuss tweeted Jim Irsay as saying at a Super Bowl breakfast Monday morning, "My anticipation is he can come back probably in 2012. I don't see him coming back this year. It’s possible."
Then, he continued to quote Irsay, saying, "Peyton should be back. He had the neck fusion, it went well. The biggest thing is to continue to get the regeneration back in the nerve in his throwing arm and we feel that he will."
Irsay tweeted Monday "I didn't say Peyton out 4season FOR SURE,keeping him on ActiveRoster n taking it month by month/Outside chance of return n December possible."
So what does that mean for the Colts this season, and more importantly, the rest of Manning's career?
Let's take a look.
Irsay hinted at the possibility of Peyton coming back, but Peyton will not take a snap this season.
The risk is too great to the team and to Manning. And what would the team risk it for? The Colts are 0-3 and face three upcoming road games. They also have to play the Ravens and Patriots this season. If the Colts march out to a 3-7 mark, what is the point in trotting a possibly not 100 percent Peyton out there?
Besides, once he recovers, he will need practice time to get back into his rhythm. Manning relies more on timing than any other quarterback in the league. If he doesn't get his reps, he has admitted that he's not as good. Throwing him into games late in the season would be dangerous for him and bad for the team.
Colts fans need to get used to, for this season, Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter dropping back to pass.
Understand one thing about this situation: Peyton Manning is as fierce of a competitor as there is. It kills him to sit idly by while his team struggles. He never wants to have this feeling again.
As Peyton heals for the remainder of this season, he will be good to go by the time training camp rolls around next year, which means he will get to go through all of his practices and walk-throughs that he likes.
He'll be on it. And he'll be mad.
He'll tear up the NFL next season and raise the Colts from a five or six win team to 12 or 13 victories in 2012 en route to another MVP.
Peyton Manning loves Indianapolis, and Indianapolis loves Peyton Manning.
Peyton Manning:Indianapolis::Derek Jeter:New York
He's not going anywhere, and the fans and executive staff aren't about to politely ask him to leave. Manning has changed the football mentality of the city. He made the Colts relevant to Hoosiers.
Not only will Manning stay, but he will play the remaining four years (after this year) on his contract. He will have strong years, but will diminish a little in the final two seasons. He will then quietly step aside from the position he loves, acknowledging that his body can't do it anymore, and hopefully take a job with the Colts as offensive coordinator. His trial period for that job is this season.
The Colts have too much pride to throw a season down the drain for one player.
When the team drafted Manning in 1998, it wasn't because it tanked the '97 season; it was because the team was just down right bad that year.
This team isn't downright bad.
There are many Pro Bowlers on this roster. The defense has incredible talent at the defensive end position with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, as evidenced against the Steelers. Reggie Wayne caught his 800th pass Sunday night, moving him into 24th place all time. Joseph Addai was running through holes like he was in Super Bowl XLI again.
This team isn't bad. It's just not great without Manning. And these players care too much about their own reputations, as well as the reputation of the Colts brand, to throw away this season.
Okay, so perhaps the first part isn't a bold prediction.
But the team is turning some pages and putting things together. Each week, the Colts have looked consistently better and the scores have been closer. They just don't have a W to show for it yet.
Right now, this team could win between five to seven games. Obviously, that's not good enough for the playoffs. But the team will continue to improve as the season goes on and the receivers spend more time with whoever the quarterback may be.
The best is yet to come this season.
But really, the best will come in 2012 when Peyton's triumphant return leads the Colts back to the Super Bowl.
As Cubs fans say, "There's always next year!"