Even though it was written on the wall, it’s still kind of surreal. Peyton Manning, one of the best QBs (if not the best), a player who brought the Indianapolis Colts from a floor mat to a Super Bowl champion, a player who “Built Lucas Oil Stadium”, a player who started every meaningful game for 13 seasons—227 in a row, including the playoffs…was shown the door by the only NFL team he’s known for the 14 years he has been in the league. Standing at the podium alongside owner Jim Irsay, who cut the injured star Wednesday rather than pay a whopping $28 million bonus due this week, Manning was nostalgic—he got choked up while praising the Colts’ management, players, equipment managers, media and fans.
I personally cannot blame the owner Irsay for making this league-changing move…let’s not forget, the NFL is a business and this is nothing but a wise business move. The Colts finished the 2011-2012 season 2-14, tied with the Rams for the worst record in the league and they are blessed to have the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft where they are set to pick one of the two pre-destined franchise QB between Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. As a business owner, you cannot rest the fate of your investment on a franchise player who just missed a whole season with a neck issue that took 3-4 operations to get corrected and you still don’t know if it’s healed. If Irsay was to pay Manning his $28 million bonus and it ends up that he has to sit out another season OR retire because of his health, that error would set the Colts back AT LEAST 2-3 years….as a businessman, you cannot afford that!
The trigger has been pulled and Peyton manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history now figures to become as coveted a free agent as the league has ever seen. Arizona, Miami, Seattle, Tennessee, Washington and the New York Jets all have been rumored as possible destinations.
As hard as it may seem, it’s time for Manning to move on.