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Tony Dungy shares his thoughts on possibility of Peyton Manning returning to the Colts

NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Things have been quite crazy in Indianapolis recently regarding the Colts. After another 8-8 season in which they missed the playoffs again, Chuck Pagano held an awkward press conference the day after the season and since then we haven’t heard a word from the Colts.

In the meantime, Jim Irsay has been doing a search for potential upgrades for Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, though it seems like those plans have fallen through. Yesterday came the report that Jon Gruden had turned down the head coach job, and it was also reported yet again that Irsay was going after Peyton Manning as the president of football operations (or a role similar to that). 1070 the Fan’s JMV reported that Irsay, Manning, and Gruden met together in Houston recently to discuss the possibility. But Gruden has declined the offer, and at this point it sounds unlikely that Manning will join the team - though that at least still sounds like a bit of a possibility.

Tonight on Football Night in America on NBC, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio gave a report on the situation, and though it’s not really new information, it does sound like he too thinks Manning is still a possibility.

“Colts owner Jim Irsay [is] apparently conflicted about keeping his coach and his GM,” Florio said. “It is indeed true that he made a run at Jon Gruden, the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach – Gruden [is] not interested, would have been part of a package deal with Peyton Manning. Manning is still in the mix. It’s unknown, though, what it would take to get Manning because Gruden and Manning are very close and they were tied together. Some think that at the end of the day, it may take actually partial ownership of the Colts to get Manning to take the job.”

More interesting than Florio’s report (since we’ve heard it already) is that former Colts head coach Tony Dungy, who coached Manning from 2002-2008, offered his thoughts on the possibility of Manning taking a role with the franchise to run the football operations.

“I think it does [suit him] for two reasons,” Dungy said. “Number one, his relationship with Jim Irsay. [They are] very, very close. He has a lot of respect for Jim. And number two, he was in Denver – he saw John Elway do it, go from quarterback to general manager of a Super Bowl team. I think he’d relish that opportunity.”

After he said that, host Dan Patrick asked Dungy whether he was interested in coaching again. “Oh, with Peyton and Jim?” Dungy said before pausing playfully, pretending he was considering it. “No,” he then added, laughing.

So Dungy thinks the move makes sense, and I’m sure most Colts fans would agree with him. Though Manning hasn’t worked in a front office before, he’s a smart guy who could surely learn quickly, and he’s a larger-than-life legend in the Colts franchise and in Indianapolis. To bring him back to run the football operations of the franchise would be a huge move, and so from Jim Irsay’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer to try to get Manning on board. And from Manning’s perspective, not only would he get to work with his long-time franchise once again, he would also get to follow in the mold of John Elway, who he got to see up close for a few years in Denver. I’m sure both aspects would very much appeal to Manning, but it’s unclear whether such a move will come - or when it would come.

It’s also unclear what the holdup is. Florio said that some think it will take partial ownership, and there have been plenty of fans who have speculated that as well. Whether or not that’s the issue, though, remains to be seen. It doesn’t sound like it’s over yet, though, and that’s probably because Jim Irsay won’t give up on wanting Manning involved with the franchise again.