Up until this past September, praise had been showered on Peyton Manning’s career so often analysts were running out of adjectives to describe him.
What a difference three months makes.
Nobody knows what to make of Peyton Manning’s status at this point, and rather than swoon over his historic onslaught on the NFL record books like we usually do this time of year, these days the All-Pro quarterback’s name only comes up if it’s asked in the form of question.
Will he return next year?
Is it time for the Colts to draft his replacement?
And even—as thoroughly incomprehensible as the notion may have seemed just a few short months ago—should the Colts actually consider trading the beloved face of their franchise?
All are valid questions and all will be answered in due time, but there’s another crucial question also lingering right now that, if it could be answered, would decide all the others by default—if Manning does come back, will he still be the same old Peyton?
The future of the Indianapolis Colts depends on it and, like so many other issues surrounding the future Hall of Famer right now, how it will all play out is still anybody’s guess.
Here’s a small sample of just those very guesses—the six most likely changes to expect when (if?) Peyton Manning returns next season: