If it's truly a business decision, Manning must go

February 17, 2012
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At the Colts complex these days it’s not business as usual.

Of course, with Colts owner Jim Irsay, it rarely is.

On the day after Irsay was inducted into the Junior Achievement of Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame, it’s clearer than ever that the decision on what to do with Peyton Manning has nothing to do with business.

Sports fans have become accustomed to hearing the common refrain “it’s business” when it comes to player transactions.

Well, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. In the case of the beloved No. 18, it most certainly isn’t.

If we’re really going to get down to business, let’s look at the facts.

You’ve got a soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback who’s had four neck surgeries in less than two years, and may be facing another. He can’t throw the deep ball and can’t throw to the left. He is nowhere near 100-percent healthy and there are increasing signs that he never will be. The same player is owed $28 million by March 8 to keep him on the roster.

Oh, and the Colts are soon to have the best quarterback prospect  in the last decade or two on their roster

If it’s only business, you cut him and it’s done. You defuse the situation and move on.

But it’s not just business.

So if it’s not business, what is it?

It’s personal. When it comes to Manning and Irsay and Manning and this city and its fans, it always has been.

This isn’t like Green Bay and Brett Favre. Packers brass said it was “just business” when they cut ties with their legendary quarterback before the 2008 season. For a time, the Packers got crucified for their decision.

Irsay wants badly to avoid that situation here. And so does Manning.

Manning wants to finish his career here. That may have as much to do with his legacy as his love for the Circle City, but certainly Manning feels some connection to this community. After all, he has a children’s hospital here named after him. He’s connected to charities here. He hosts—or at least lends his name to—youth and high school football games here.

No matter how close their friendship really is—or isn’t—Irsay certainly feels at least somewhat beholden to the man who helped build his franchise into a powerhouse.

Irsay is still stinging from being spurned by Johnny Unitas and the Unitas family over the Colts’ move to Indianapolis. He wants desperately to avoid that type of separation anxiety again.

At some level there’s more than a tinge of mutual respect between the two that goes beyond what they’ve done for one another on a business level.

At this moment, I suspect Manning and Irsay are a lot like those people in the movies who have a devil standing on one shoulder and an angel on the other—both screaming in their ear and competing for attention.

In Manning and Irsay’s case one of the voices they here is all about business, while the other is whispering about personnel connections and tugging at heart strings.

That tug of war is what’s taking so long.

So what happens next?

That all depends on which side of Irsay and Manning’s collective conscience is stronger.

  • $$$
    How could it be personal? He fleeced us (all of us in Indiana, including taxpayers) in 2011, by taking $20+ million when he knew he couldn't play. If he was a business taking that money from city/state & not giving anything back, we'd be demanding the return of his salary.
    • More than business...yes
      I think you hit the nail squarely. You can tell that there is more to this than a contract. Mark, you get paid what you get paid. Sometimes a player has to live under a contract where he is underpaid. Sometimes it is the reverse. I suspect Manning had full intentions that he was going to be back here trying to get us in a Super Bowl. Maybe he was deceiving himself, but I do not believe it was intentional. Besides, it's a contract. You still pay him.
    • Are you kidding me?
      Mark - not sure how you think Manning fleeced us by taking the pay he was promised - he busted his but in rehab so he could get back to playing and still is. Let me ask you - if you got hurt at work would you tell your employer that you did not want your paycheck? Are you forgetting all that Peyton has done for this city and the millions and millions that his playing here has generated for the city. He is the only 4 time league MVP in the entire history of the NFL - got us to 2 Super Bowls and a bunch of Division Championships not to mention his role in getting the Super Bowl to be hosted here - so put a value on all that and put it against his salary for this last year and then tell me he fleeced us based on his total career here.
    • Compromise for Indy.
      The perfect comprise would be for Manning take a signicant decrease of the $28M and Irsay keep him. He would be the perfect person to help Andrew become another Peyton or more. Peyton could even eventently become an offence coach or more. He has all the requirements,intellingence,skill,personality,and work ethic.
    • Sounds like a plan to me!
      At this point, compromise is the name of the game and frankly, I think this could be a perfect solution for all! I think Peyton would love bringing Andrew up to speed and could even shift into a true coaching mode when his playing days are over. He has a lot vested in this city as do we in him so it could be the ultimate solution for all...it would be a win/win situation for Indianapolis as well as Peyton Manning! Great idea, Woodie!
    • Manning did nothing wrong
      Mark - You are way off the mark her. The money Manning makes is not taxpayer money. It belongs to the organization (i.e., Irsay). Yes, much of that money is from ticket sales, and the Colt's portion of TV and merchandise revenue sharing between the teams, but it is Irsay's money. He spends the money on players and can spend how he pleases as long as he abides by the NFL Salary-Cap rules. Manning had a contract with Irsay and the Colts to pay him. The contract did not stipulate no payment for no play. Some player contracts are heavy on incentives, pay to play or bonus laden with incentives, but Manning's was not (on purpose not by accident). He received what was due him by contract and has no reason to return any of it. Now it is true that if it did not go to Manning it would have gone to other players and maybe we would have been able to field a more competitive team in 2011.

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