The man who once pulled the strings in Indy for over a decade is now providing us with some encouraging words regarding the return of Peyton Manning.
In a sit down with ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, Polian spoke on his own experiences of watching Manning throw from back in late December [emphasis mine]:
"It’s marked [improvement] from where he was back in September," Polian said regarding Peyton’s arm strength in December, when Polian last observed Manning. "He threw it accurately, he threw it with a good, tight spiral, and he threw it with velocity. Generally, he looked like a pretty confident quarterback out there."
We've heard that Peyton basically has a "noodle arm" and we've heard that he's been on the cusp of retirement for quite some time. Manning has practically killed off any retirement reports, along with his agent. Now? We're getting more and more good news about his ability to be, well, Peyton Manning again.
If Manning was making this kind of progress back in late December, it's hard not to be optimistic about his eventual return. In fact, Manning's confidence in his progression might have added some fuel to re-fire the "I'm cleared" media circus that was propelled into the spotlight during the week of Indy's Super Bowl.
As for Polian, he also believes that Manning is on path to show everyone that he will overcome "another obstacle" and return at a "high level".
And it turns out that Polian isn't the only one who is confident about Manning's ability to successfully return.
In a radio appearance on February 1 (this slipped through the media cracks somehow), Adam Vinatieri revealed that he has also seen Manning throw and there are more good signs [emphasis mine]:
"I haven't watched him the last few weeks, but I did see him at the end of the season," Vinatieri said during the interview. "He was developing nicely. Was he quite all the way back yet? No, probably not. Not to his standards.
"But he definitely is not that far off."
Very interesting. Here's another valuable source that has taken a look at Manning tossing the pigskin and he believes he is "not that far off." Vinatieri notes seeing Manning "at the end of the season." This would put his recollected time-frame very close to Polian's.
Jim Irsay is also reportedly "pleased" with Manning's ability to throw. What "pleased" means? Who knows? Irsay has proclaimed that if healthy, Manning will remain a Colt. Well, with these tidbits of info coming to light, it certainly makes the pressure to keep Manning a little more intense.
If Manning's arm doesn't resemble a "noodle", the velocity is there, and he can make accurate throws, there's really no way to justify letting him walk. If he doesn't want to be here, that's one thing. But Manning has a shot to finish his career right where it started. He also would be an invaluable bridge to the Andrew Luck era. Luck is going to be faced with some transition obstacles, just like every rookie quarterback that's came into the league. Why not let the greatest take him under his wing? Luck appears to have no problem with it. In fact, he would "embrace" such an opportunity. The restructuring of Manning's contract is also there for the taking. Manning's camp recently sent out a signal indicating as much, stating that Manning would be interested in a no guaranteed money, incentive-laden deal. And despite whatever negativity we've heard in the back and forth between Irsay and Manning, Irsay has also told us that it's Manning's call on whether he wants to play in Indy or not.
All of these things considered, if you're rooting for Manning to finish out his career with the horseshoe on his helmet (why wouldn't you be?), enjoy some good news for a change. Now, if we could just see a leaked video of Manning tossing dimes to the kids down at Duke, the world would quickly hit the most insane stage of "Manning Mania".
The sun hasn't set on this decision, quite yet, Indianapolis. Let's ride this sucker out a little longer.