The Washington Post

Colts owner Jim Irsay tweets about Brett Favre with Peyton Manning’s availability uncertain

The waiting game ... (BRENT SMITH / REUTERS)

“Brad, I'm in Hattiesburg ... is it right or left at the Firechief?” Irsay tweeted, sending the sports world into a dither of speculation.

Bus Cook, Favre's agent, admitted that he has hadn’t spoken with Favre in a few days and added in an email, “Last time I saw him he was on his tractor mowing the back 40.”

When last pursued by a reporter, the Miami Herald’s Jeff Darlington, Favre seemed out of shape and said “I don’t have any interest” — in playing for the Miami Dolphins.

But the Dolphins aren’t the Colts, whose quarterbacking situation suddenly was revealed to be iffy Saturday, with Irsay tweeting that Peyton Manning may not be available for the season opener. Manning has missed all of training camp and preseason as he recovers from neck surgery in May and Colts President Bill Polian confirmed the concern Saturday. As for Irsay’s Sunday tweet, Colts General Manager Chris Polian declined to comment.

“I certainly want to be out there, and it's hard to keep track of the hours I've spent in rehab,” Manning said Saturday. “I was short-changed a little bit by the lockout [which kept him from working with Colts’ trainers and coaches] and I'm going to need every bit of the next two weeks, and then I can give you more of an update with where I am.”

His former coach, Tony Dungy, has no doubts that Manning will be ready for the season opener. “Unless he’s dead,” Dungy said on “Sunday Night Football,” “he’ll be under center for opening day.”

Still, it’s sobering when the owner is tweeting. Not having Manning, who has never missed an NFL start and is No. 2 on the all-time list (behind Favre) with 227 consecutive starts, would be a scary proposition. Particularly given the play of Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. (Perhaps Irsay is looking for a tutor for those guys; after all, Favre reportedly helped Cleveland Browns QB Colt McCoy.)

The Colts, trips to Hattiesburg aside, aren’t panicking. It isn’t as if they take preseason seriously. Since 2005, they’ve lost more preseason (4-21) games than regular-season games (75-21).

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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