Get used to this very real, very stark realization, folks. 2011 will be Peyton Manning's last in a Colts uniform.
Anyone thinking different isn't thinking at all. Sounds harsh, I know. But, the truth is rarely rosy. Peyton and the Colts are done. Accept it. Deal with it. Don't be a jerk and get mad at me for simply stating the obvious.
As Stew and others reported yesterday, Peyton's semi-official spokesman, his father Archie, is already making the rounds with various media outlets, letting it be known that Peyton Manning will not play on a team which drafts Andrew Luck out of Stanford in 2012. That's obviously not a knock on Luck. He and Manning get along fine. It's just that Peyton knows any team that drafts Luck in 2012 must play him in 2012.
Andrew Luck is not a 2005 version of Aaron Rodgers. He feels he is 'absolutely' ready for the NFL, and pretty much everyone else agrees with him (including Manning). Plus, as the presumed No. 1 overall pick, he should play his rookie year. Otherwise, why draft him?
It's also no coincidence that Archie is making these media rounds a few days after Peyton repeatedly stated that he did not tell Colts vice chairman Bill Polian that he was 'okay' with Indy drafting a quarterback with their first round pick in 2012, even though Polian publicly said Manning did tell him it was 'okay.'
This is Manning v. Polian, boys and girls. Manning wants the message out there that, if healthy, he wants to play. It's also clear to him (and anyone else with even half a brain) that the Colts are a dysfunctional, talentless mess, and that he wants out.
It's divorce time, people. Get ready for the soon-to-be-permanently-Manningless-Colts in 2012.
Bob Kravitz has written a bunch about the impending Manning-Colts divorce, and his logic is indeed correct. The Colts cannot trade Peyton Manning, not unless Peyton makes some contract concessions which, frankly, Peyton is not obligated in any way to do.
Thus, Peyton is now sending out his 'people,' and the power play to control his own fate is in full swing, and it might be a coordinated effort from both the Manning and Luck families. From PFT:
It was a clear sign that, if the Colts plan to take Luck, Peyton will be looking for a path out of town. And for good reason. With the first overall pick worth more than ever this year, Peyton surely would prefer that the Colts trade the rights to Luck for players and/or draft picks who could help Peyton win more Super Bowls.
Of course, it’s also possible that Archie has advised Oliver on the procedure for making a power play, which Archie did seven years ago when Eli Manning forced his way out of San Diego. And so, if Andrew Luck makes it clear that he doesn’t want to play for the Colts, the Colts could keep Peyton.
Either way, this all needs to happen before early March, since the Colts owe Peyton another $28 million at that point. If it doesn’t, there’s a chance that the Colts end up not with both players, but with neither.
If this kind of stuff bothers any of you fans; if the power play politicking of the NFL make you queasy; if you are confused as to why Peyton would do this to fans who have cheered his name for over a decade, I'll just simply remind you that this is a business. Players, coaches, and front office people care very little about you think and feel. Peyton will do what is best for him, not the fans, the team, or the NFL.
He owes Bill Polian nothing.
He owes Jim Irsay nothing.
He owes Indianapolis nothing.
He owes the NFL nothing.
Right or wrong, he will play where he wants to play next year IF he is healthy, and right now the place he wants to play doesn't seem to be Indianapolis.
For me personally, I think a parting of ways is in the best interest of both Indy and Peyton. The Colts need to clean house. We've made our position clear on that. They need a new direction, a new focus, a new 'franchise' face. It now seems likely they will 'earn' the No. 1 overall pick. That means Andrew Luck. Trading the pick is moronic, and taking anyone else other than Luck would be franchise suicide.
Luck is a tremendously talented kid, and he fits the bill as a 'franchise' player. He's someone the city could embrace. Also, while franchises in Miami, Denver, and Pittsburgh have struggled (and, in some cases, continue to struggle) to replace legendary quarterbacks, the Colts might just go from one legend to another the way Green Bay did recently.
As my boss Jim Bankoff has said to me all season long as I have suffered along with you through this terrible season of suck, getting Andrew Luck is 'not too shabby.' And if getting Luck means goodbye Peyton (and it does), then thanks for the memories 18! I'll still root for you... as long as you aren't playing the Colts.