The latest installment, after last week’s Rob Lowe erroneous tweet about Manning’s imminent retirement, featured fallout from an Indianapolis Star interview earlier this week in which Manning said that the Colts’ upheaval in the front office and coaching staff had “everyone walking around on eggshells.” On Thursday, Irsay chose to address that interview, after introducing new Coach Chuck Pagano at a press conference. He did so by calling the quarterback “a politician.”
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest to paint the horseshoe in a negative light, I really don’t,” Irsay said. “The horseshoe always comes first, and I think one thing he’s always known, because he’s been around it so long, is that, you know, you keep it in the family. If you’ve got a problem you talk to each other, it’s not about campaigning or anything like that.”
By the end of the first week of March, Irsay must decide whether to pay Manning, a four-time MVP who missed the 2011 season because of neck surgery, a $28 million bonus or lose him to free agency — assuming he is physically able to play. And Irsay has left no doubt that the decision will be his; Pagano and General Manager Ryan Grigson will escape that PR hit and will be free to rebuild the franchise, presumably using the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft on Andrew Luck.
Manning, in his first public comments about the Colts’ changes, said the atmosphere wasn’t conducive to healing. Clearly, his use of the expression “walking on eggshells” rankled Irsay.
On Friday, Irsay and Manning issued a joint statement on the Colts’ team Web site, dismissing the notion that a rift had developed between them. As the AP reported:
Peyton Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay insist they are just fine after a week filled with complaints and comments suggesting a rift had developed following one of the most miserable seasons in team history.
“We would like to dispel any misperception that there might be any hard feelings between us,” the two said Friday in a statement issued by the team. “Since 1998, we have enjoyed a great relationship, based upon mutual respect and trust. We have always been able to talk and address matters we’ve faced over the years, not just as owner and player, but as friends.