Thank you to James, a Colts fan from Ohio, for the following:
AL MICHAELS: ... and the question is what about the future, what about next year? The other day he was saying that he's pain-free if nothing else but he hasn't been cleared to run, works out on the elliptical . . .what's your feeling about it, Chris?
CHRIS COLLINSWORTH: Well, I hope he does right by himself, he's meant too much to the NFL for too long, I certainly hope he doesn't play the rest of this year and he has to make a decision about his future. He's a young guy, he's obviously talented, he's got more money than he could ever spend in a hundred lifetimes and I hope we see him playing next year, but I also hope that he's healthy for the rest of his life.
Last night, in the midst of one of the Colts most embarrassing losses all time, Chris Collinsworth made a few comments that should have made fans cringe far worse than the score did. Talking about the anemic Colts offense and the importance of Peyton Manning (we get it already, we are a one man team), Chris Collingsworth said how he hopes Peyton Manning does what is best for him and his future post football because he is still a young guy who has plans and goals he wants to achieve after he's done playing quarterback.
Al Michaels quickly jumped in to clarify that Manning has yet to be put on IR and that there is talk of him returning this season, to which Collinsworth replied that he hopes Manning 'shuts it down' for the year and focuses instead on the possibilities of playing next season.
My first reaction to Collinsworth's comments were 'huh? Is he confusing number 18 with Kerry Collins. He isn't concussed and should have a few years left.' After a few moments, my second thought was, 'ooohhh..crap.'
For months we have heard rumors and delicately danced around the subject of the severity of Manning's neck injury and fusion surgery. The Colts have maintained - at least publicly - that Manning could play this year and for the most part that has been accepted by the media. The owner of the team Jim Irsay has said as much.
So for Collingsworth to say during a primetime national telecast that Manning should not only shut it down for the season, but also consider his long term health and future is not only very troubling, but revealing as well.
A lot of us non-doctors have assumed (or wanted to believe) that Peyton Manning's injury was more arm than neck related. A serious one, but an injury that was more detrimental to his being able to throw than possible spinal damage. Arms heal. Perhaps because of his previous invincibility we convinced ourselves that we understood the severity and that he would be fine. Sure he might be out awhile, but it's Peyton freaking Manning right?!?! He's superman, he'll be back by December!
By talking about Manning's future and Manning doing what is best for him, Collinsworth painfully drilled it into our heads that the severity of the injury is far worse than we believed or were told. This might not just our beloved qb living with a bum shoulder. His day-to-day life could be impacted.... This is the first major analyst willing to go out on television and really give fans the full and potentially devastating news that Peyton needs to think about life post-football. Reality has hit home.
Which brings me to point two. Talk of players looking out for the long term interests in the NFL is only related to concussion related injuries (even though most players come back and play again - see Austin Collie) and career threatening injuries.
This deduction leads to two more questions.
- Why is Peyton taking up a roster spot? (no idea, ask Polian)
- Should Colts fans be prepared to move on without number 18? (it's a distinct possibility)
And we thought after a 62-7 loss it couldn't get any worse. Here's to hoping he's wrong but also to Collinsworth for preparing us for a possible terrible reality.