Well, we finally heard it from the horse's mouth.
After widespread speculation and "gut feelings" regarding the future and health of Peyton Manning, all of that has been laid to rest. At least for the next 24 hours...
In an exclusive two-part interview with ESPN's Trey Wingo, Manning was very optimistic about his future and maintained an upbeat tone throughout:
"I really feel good. I continue to make progress every day," he said. "Everything that the doctors have told me has been on point, which is encouraging to me. I just had a great day today with rehab, just got back from the facility, and that's what we continue to do. Just keep trying to get better. So far I have. That's the plan from here on out."
Manning expects to be cleared to play, will continue to receive check-ups over the next several weeks, and believes his future will be determined soon:
"I think the sooner the better, I really do," he said. "Jim and I talk constantly, we really do. We're in constant communication, and after this week is over, we'll do it, and we'll make a good plan from there. Either way, it's going to be good. I'm at peace, and it'll be a positive thing, I can assure you."
In my opinion, Manning did two things with this interview:
A) Tried to clear up the misconceptions and reports about his supposed fragile health.
B) Sent a signal to the football world that he'll be ready to mingle, if he indeed becomes a free agent.
After the interview with Manning, Adam Schefter stated that he believed Manning is likely on his way to becoming "the most decorated and high-profile free-agent in NFL history." No kidding, Schefter?
Manning was also asked to predict the possible outcome of the upcoming Irsay decision, but delivered the following instead:
"I cannot predict that," he said. "I think it's well documented how I feel about this city, the fans, the Colts, Jim Irsay. It's well documented. Tough decisions have to be made. They'll be made at the appropriate time. This is just not the week to do it. It's not the week. I know people can talk about it, that's fair, that's part of the game. It doesn't mean that I have to add to that conversation, and I just don't plan to."
And as Manning mentioned, he does really seem "at peace" with the prospects of his situation. However, he did remain adamant that he'd like to stay in Indy and praised his relationship with Irsay.
Let's just hope that if he does part ways, it truly will be in the best interests of the Colts and #18.