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It's Looking More And More Likely That Peyton Manning Is Finished

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Forget the silly and unnecessary shot Peyton Manning took yesterday at former Giants quarterback and current CBS Sports loudmouth Phil Simms. The BIG news that came out of Peyton's impromptu news conference with the media was the overall progress of his health since his third neck surgery in August along with the admission by Peyton that, when he signed his mega contract, he wasn't healthy.

Now, the latter revelation is certainly nothing surprising. Despite Bill and Chris Polian publicly asserting again and again that Peyton took a physical prior to signing his deal, no one believed them. We're now two months post-neck fusion surgery, and Peyton said yesterday he is still dealing with much of the same problems he was experiencing before the surgery. Knowing that, there's simply no way a player dealing with those kinds of issues could pass a real physical.

If you read Phil Wilson's blog yesterday at the Indianapolis Star, you were blessed to scan the excellent transcript he and Mike Chappell posted after the Manning press conference, a conference that was not planned and took many by surprise. The information shared by Peyton was both welcome and somewhat frightening. While Peyton tried to spin things as 'business as usual,' the admission that, two months into the fusion surgery, he's still waiting for the nerve in his neck to regenerate has to worry Colts fans, coaches, the front office, and Jim Irsay.

We also now know, from Peyton himself, that his new contract is essentially a one-year deal with a four-year extension. This structure was suggested by Peyton himself back in July when it was put together. This means that Peyton knew he was hurt back then, knew it was serious, and provided the Colts an 'out' should he not get healthy enough to play again after 2011.

The contract, I was the one that helped construct it in the manner that it is. It’s a one-year deal with a four-year extension, if you will. It was my recommendation, that I wasn’t healthy when I signed the contract and if I’m not healthy in February I think it’s fair for the Colts to be able to make their decision there.

For those of you still wondering what all this means, the bottom line is this: Peyton Manning has to be healthy and ready to play football again by December or January, or the Colts are going to have to release him.

It really is unthinkable, almost ridiculous, to suggest that the Colts would cut Peyton Manning. But, the reality is he is going to be 36-years-old and coming off his third neck surgery in two years. He is still experiencing problems, and cannot feel his triceps muscle. Also, when the 2011 ends, the Colts will have to make a choice:

  • Roll the dice in 2012 and pay Peyton $28 million dollars, or
  • Release him

The contract signed in July is structured to allow Indy to release Peyton without too much damage. Again, this is per Peyton's own suggestion. This means that, back in July, he knew this thing was serious, and he wanted to give the Colts a viable option to cut loose of him should his health not be where it needed to be at season's end.

I honestly don't know of any other athlete who has done something like that.

Add to this the complication of the Colts possibly owning the No. 1 overall pick at year's end, and the likelihood that they will draft Stanford QB Andrew Luck. If Peyton is not healthy by December, if he isn't practicing and throwing the ball with velocity and accuracy, the Colts will have a BIG decision to make in February or March.

Amazing, isn't it?

In February, the city of Indianapolis will host it's first Super Bowl, but as titanic as that is that story will be secondary to the health of Peyton Manning and the decision Jim Irsay will have to make regarding his future with the Colts. Right now, it looks like that decision is likely to involve Irsay cutting Manning, drafting a new quarterback, and moving on into a new era of Colts football.

Unbelievable. I'm still in a kind of shock that this is starting to become reality.

The next big update on Peyton is in one month, when he's scheduled for another check-up. Brace yourselves.