The more I read on this subject, the more I get the feeling the Colts have flat out lied to the fans and the media. Michael Lombardi, the former personnel head for the Oakland Raiders and current host of CBS' NFL pre-game show, does a column for The National Football Post. He's a knowledgeable guy with friends and contacts throughout the NFL. His column dated for today reveals from very serious information on Peyton Manning's surgery and recovery:
Apparently Manning had to go through another procedure on his knee to clean things out after having his bursa sac removed last month. What is the most concerning is not the second operation (which the Colts are denying), but that they cannot control the swelling in Manning’s knee and any physical movement causes MORE swelling. Once he returns to the game, gets hit, has to place a load on the knee, and drive the ball, there can be swelling. All I know is that there is MUCH more here than meets the eye. Manning has the trainer come over to HIS home for rehab and is rarely seen. Now, I have been with some big-time quarterbacks in my career like Joe Montana and Rich Gannon and never have they rehabbed from home. I thought this was not an issue and that Manning would be back.
Unless Lombardi is lying, or his sources are full of it, the Colts have been fibbing to fans and media about Peyton Manning's recovery. A second procedure is a pretty big friggin' deal, even if it was to clean up some minor stuff in the knee. Even if the knee is fine, and has no structural damage, it's still pretty damn important to tell your fans (who have bought tickets to the opening of their public funded stadium at $160 bucks a pop).
The more you read into this, with players and coaches getting saying they'd like Peyton back for the opener, but... the more I get the sense the Colts are softening the fanbase up to the prospect that Jim Sorgi will start Week One against the Chicago Bears. We're hearing players saying things like "We'd like to have him back, but he just needs to not miss any playoff games."
Again, there is also encouraging news, like Peyton leading the offense through a walk through yesterday. But if Peyton did indeed have a second "routine procedure," then all this stuff Bill Polian has fed to us about everything being fine and right on schedule is complete and utter bullsh*t.
I certainly hope I'm wrong. I hope Lombardi is wrong and he is totally full of it. But, from the looks of it, Lombardi looks credible, and the Colts are not credible when it comes to reporting injury updates. They are also just flat out BAD at rehabbing their players and getting them ready to play. They screwed it up for Bob Sanders in 2006, Marvin Harrison in 2007, and now maybe Peyton Manning in 2008.
Again, I hope this is totally and utterly false. I'd like to think everything wee have been told by the Colts is accurate and on-the-level. However, Lombardi's report just doesn't seem false, and Bill Polian and the Colts PR department might have a lot of explaining to do.
UPDATE: Phil B of the Indy Star commented on Lombardi's column here:
We're aware of the blog, as are the Colts. Tony Dungy was asked about it today and implied it wasn't true. He didn't come right out and deny it, but he made the suggestion we should talk to the blogger -- and that he would like to. I don't know that anyone knows the truth except Manning, Irsay, Polian, Dungy and the doctors. Anybody out there saying otherwise is making a guess. Pure speculation. And if you want to push the issue, you ask, "How do you know this to be true?" I can't believe it would be in the Colts' best interest to share this information with anyone, let alone a blogger. And since this was a blog, the interview request for Bill Polian was turned down because, I guess it's policy, the team doesn't respond to blog reports. That kind of puts me in my place, I guess.
It is the official policy of the Colts not to respond to or acknowledge bloggers. I know because I get it read to me everytime I ask them for press credentials. It's a crap policy, but whatcha gonna do. I do feel better that Phil B, a guy who is pretty good at what he does despite his scary hair style, knows of this blog post and has talked to Dungy about it. Again, I am hopeful that Lombardi and his sources are full of it, and that Peyton Manning will start under center Sunday night against the Bears.
Big tip to Matic for finding Phil B's response.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Our own Ufanforeal emailed Mike Lombardi for confirmation on his story. Here is Lombardi's email response (in bold below):
Subject:Re: Peyton’s surgery
Date:Thursday, August 21, 2008 1:52:11 PM
I have it 100 percent correct….
On Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 2:49 PM, <email@example.com> wrote:
Being a die hard Colts fan I’m very curious on how much faith you put to this being the absolute real info on his second surgery and why none of the main news sources are reporting any thing on it.
Any confirming info would be greatly appreciated. THANK YOU.
Massive, huge, GIGANTIC thanks to Ufanforreal for taking the initiative to contact Lombardi.