A day after Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay made it clear that the decision whether to play for the team rests with Peyton Manning and his willingness to take a pay cut, Sports Illustrated reports new details about the quarterback’s physical condition.
According to SI’s Don Banks, Manning underwent four, not three, neck procedures over a 19-month span, has bone spurs just above the spot of fusion surgery in September, may require further fusion and tried to play late in the season, although he could throw only 20-25 yards.
Most revealing are the details about Manning’s throwing ability. Both he and his agent have said that, although the surgeon who did the fusion has cleared him to play, the nerve must regenerate. Manning is working on that, trying to build strength, and has said it is expected to take time. According to Banks’s sources, the Colts are concerned that “Manning’s neck injuries have reached the chronic stage,” but he nonethless worked out for team officials late in the season in an attempt to play in red-zone situations in the season finale against Houston. Banks writes:
“ ‘He wanted to go on the field and try to dump red-zone passes against Houston,’ ” a league source said. “Even though his neck muscles hadn't even been strengthened yet. Can you imagine anyone putting him on the field in that situation? Just to throw a string of red-zone passes? But that's where things were going at that time, and it kind of speaks to the insanity of the situation.”
Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, said during Super Bowl week that “Peyton’s not done” and, when contacted by Banks for his story, said: “I wouldn't have anything to say about all of that, one way or another.”
All of which further complicates Manning’s future with March 8, the date by which the Colts must pay him a $28 million bonus, bearing down. Irsay said Tuesday that “we can make it work if he wants to be here. We’d be excited to have him back and finish his career with us.”
Nearly every NFL team that needs a quarterback is salivating over the prospect of signing Manning and, until there’s more clarity on the matter, even a troubling report like SI’s isn’t likely to change that.
A Manning Compendium from D.C. Sports Bog
Mark Rypien: Yes on Manning
Steve Young: “It’s all in place”
Joe Theismann: “Horrific Idea”
Chris Mortensen: Not horrific
Mark Schlereth: Eli wouldn’t be a deterrent
Jason La Canfora and John Feinstein: Only for the cash
Trent Dilfer: “Very Realistic”
Joe Gibbs: Needs Indy offense
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray: Been down this path before