Indianapolis Colts: Ending Peyton Manning Era Jim Irsay’s Call


Colts-owner-calls-Manning-a-politician-HATATN2-x-large1-300x220If Apple weren’t invented in this new age of innovation, we seemingly wouldn’t have iPods or iPhones. The same can be said for owner Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts. If they weren’t in dire need of a franchise quarterback in the late 90s, the Colts apparently wouldn’t have seen the emergence of Peyton Manning, the endearing star of the South’s most famous college quarterbacks.

His legacy will be his forever, even if the Colts are ready to cancel Manning Health Watchers, contemplating whether or not to part ways with Manning and move forward by selecting top QB prospect Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. For over a decade, Manning was a rifle-armed thrower and aired it out for a bottomless receiver core. Ever since he wore a Colts jersey, he’s been the all-encompassing icon in the smaller town of Indiana, emerging into one of the primary athletes in sports.

But now, he honestly knows his days are numbered as a Colt, and this exchange in a war of words has perpetuated a feud in what appears to be a broken ending to an unsteady relationship when Irsay and Manning traded words verbally Thursday, with Irsay calling him a “politician.” It would be foolish of the Colts to move on without Manning, the symbol of football, a superstar that Indianapolis can embrace deeply as he sold Sprint phones and tickets at Lucas Oil Stadium.

It’s the house that Manning built, and the future Hall of Fame quarterback is not on good terms with his boss since a confrontation spewed publicly. In the best interest of the organization, Irsay must chose whether to pay Manning, a four-time MVP who missed the 2011 season while recovering from neck surgery. Rather simply, Irsay could lose the greatest player ever at the most respected position in football, an ultimate icon in a city that hopes to see him retire as a Colt. But it seems Irsay is adamant and stupidly dauntless enough not to give him a $28 million bonus and lose the well-accomplished quarterback to free agency.

What if he is physically able to play? What if he returns to good health? It’s something that Irsay must think about, before he maneuvers his roster in a way that he’ll later regret, in a way that he’ll have to go through a rebuilding stage. Assuming they mended a rocky relationship by reaching a mutual understanding, assuming that they’ve handled the issue professionally, Manning and Irsay have reconciled  after a rift arose between the team and the franchise quarterback. Right now, as I write this, Irsay realizes that Manning has achieved more than anyone in the Colts family, exceeding individual deeds and even capturing a lone Super Bowl title, all with Indianapolis to popularize a franchise in a territory where folks brace themselves for the game.

“We would like to dispel any misperception that there might be any hard feelings between us,” the two said Friday in a statement issued by the team. “Since 1998, we have enjoyed a great relationship, based upon mutual respect and trust. We have always been able to talk and address matters we’ve faced over the years, not just as owner and player, but as friends.

“We had a long talk today and we want to assure Colts fans everywhere that we are both committed to maintaining our close relationship and to working together through any challenges the future may bring.”

peytonx-large-300x225Irsay reiterated, earlier in the week, that health — not money — will determine whether Manning returns next season. At a time when the Suck 4 Luck campaign is conceivable, a debate that has fans speculating on the Colts’ decision in the forthcoming weeks, the team will likely select Luck and move forward without Manning. It’s the most controversial issue, the most overblown story in football so far, as the season is coming to a close with the Super Bowl only a week from now.

If Manning, who we adore greatly for becoming one of the finest legends among NFL quarterbacks, is not healthy and unable to play by next season, the Colts won’t hesitate trading him as a few teams will take a gamble and bring in an ailing veteran to try and win a title at the very moment. And now, just like that, it doesn’t seem as if they are heading for a divorce. This is an irreparable relationship that is reparable after all. And no team, not even those with more drama, has faced a dizzying array of turmoil in what has been a befuddling week, following the latest news after a fallout from an Indianapolis Star interview earlier in the week.

The mess unfolded specifically when Manning said that the state of confusion in the front office and on the coaching staff had “everyone walking around on eggshells.” That spurred retaliation from Irsay and, in an interview after introducing new Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, he addressed the issue when he lashed out and verbally ripped his franchise quarterback. It’s really quite elementary that he’s discontent with the front office after Irsay fired his longtime vice chairman and friend Bill Polian, to take over personnel decisions and full possession of his family-owned business.

“I was stunned, I was surprised, I was saddened and just disappointed that it all happened this way,” an unhappy Manning told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen by phone a few weeks ago. “I was actually meeting with Bill in the training room and we were talking about my rehab schedule, what I could and couldn’t do in the facility under the new (collective bargaining agreement) and my checkpoints when he was summoned to see Irsay. He actually chuckled and said, ‘We’ll see.’”

Was this why he was upset?

Maybe Irsay is tempted to begin a massive revamp of the Colts’ front office and coaching staff in the aftermath of a pathetic 2-14 season, leading to the firings of Polian, general manager Chris Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell. It’s all up to whatever Irsay wants, not what Pagano or general manager Ryan Grigson desire.

It’s not even Manning’s call.

The rift is over, so they say. But we really may never know at this point if Manning and the Colts are approaching the topic of a divorce, an ugly separation. There’s no telling whether their relationship will come to an end reprehensibly or live on happily ever after.

Previous articleDeja Blue! Fear the Fearsome, Mighty Giants
Next articleFor Tom Brady, Super Bowl Victory Validates All
Jonathan Mathis as known as The Sports Judge is the founder of SoCalChronicle. He is a professional Sports writer, contributor, Youtuber, podcaster @ ASAP Network, and co-host of Gonzo & The Judge Sports Talk. Follow the SportsJudge@


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here