Irsay can no longer be in Manning's corner

March 7, 2012
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It’s just business.

Sports fans everywhere have heard it a thousand times and it’s become the 21st century battle cry for sports executives everywhere. That dreaded saying is all too familiar to Indianapolis Colts fans.

But, as they say, business is business, and pleasure is pleasure. And the two don’t always mix.

So as unpleasant as Wednesday’s announcement about Peyton Manning’s future will be, the prospects facing team owner Jim Irsay are even more distasteful.

Irsay has to root against Manning—at least on the field of play. Irsay has to hope his new quarterback does better than the one he let walk out the door.

This is a watershed moment for the Colts that could change the course of the franchise.

If Manning pilots another team to a Super Bowl title, especially if the new Colts quarterback never gets that done, the erosion of support from the Colts’ local fan base can’t be overestimated The tsunami of bad feelings will make backlash from the Pacers’ brawl in 2004 seem like a ripple in a mud puddle.

Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III might come here and have a marvelous career, but it won’t matter if they don’t win at least as many Super Bowls as Manning does in another city.

The odds are surely with the Colts, right? After all, they could have a decade or more with the new quarterback and Manning has five years at best.

But, hold on. First, you can bet Manning will put himself in an ideal position to win—and win now. Second, if you know Manning at all, you know that if he’s healthy, he’ll play five more seasons. Remember, other than his neck, this guy’s body has been rock solid.

Yes, but if Luck can pilot the Colts to a couple of Super Bowl titles over the next 15 years or so, all will be forgotten, right?

Perhaps. But remember, Manning—arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time—only got one title in 14 seasons with the Colts. And you could pretty easily argue that Manning will be in a better position to win another Super Bowl than the Colts’ new quarterback, considering the state of the team.

But, hey, it’s just business. Surely, many years with Luck or Griffin is better than even a handful with Manning.

Maybe so. But Irsay has to hope he gets this decision right.

The Colts’ fan base just beneath the surface is simmering mad. It’s still upset the Colts torpedoed a possible undefeated season two years ago. It’s tired of Irsay’s relentless tweeting and the way this sad chapter in the franchise’s history has dragged on. It’s tired of talk that Irsay waited until after this year’s season ticket renewal date to announce Manning’s future.

I’m betting all that steam will boil over in a mad rage if this thing goes sideways.

Irsay has taken a calculated gamble. But as any gambler will tell you, you don’t gamble against something, then turn around and hope it comes true.

Distasteful? Depends on your point of view.

But this is about business, right?

You bet.


  • Manning
    I disagree. I think Irsay wants what is best for the Colts and also Manning. If Manning stays here, he probably could not win a Super Bowl until the team rebuilds. And that will take a few years. If he goes to another team and wins, I would not regret Irsay's decision just because Manning is successful elsewhere.
  • He Will Be Missed
    Unfortunately it is just business. We/Peyton had a great run. I wish him nothing but the best with whatever team he goes to. Hopefully he will make it to the Super Bowl again as well as the Colts. It is obvious by his words at the press conference that he understands and is not mad at Irsay. When it comes down to it, it is just business, and it is just a game. As Peyton put it today, we need to be thinking about the people whose lives have been turned upside down by the tornados. What a class act! He will be missed!
  • Compare Apples with other Apples
    If the Colts draft Luck in the first round, it already sounds like the drafting will be more diverse. With Manning, the whole roster was put together to play a style that would revolve around what Peyton could do on the field. The new front office sounds like it is prepared to constuct a defense first mentality. Even with an offensive talent like Luck, the team strategy should have better balance. Peyton never had a defense that could stop a run game. If he did, the Colts could have had multiple SB trophies. Indianapolis needs to learn whether it's the Colts or the Pacers to stay loyal even when there team's go through losing seasons. This blame game and what if crap needs to stop. The "I am not going to games unless we are a championship caliber team," is fair weather fandom and childish.
  • I am fine with both doing great
    I think most of us who are rational people will root for both to do well. I am not stupid enough to think if Manning signs in say, Arizona, who were good enough that backup John Skelton nearly got them to the playoffs, that he won't have a better chance to win big in the next couple of years than he would if he remained with the Colts, and Manning knows this. The Colts are not going to win a Super Bowl next year no matter who is at quarterback. But one thing we know...teams that have the right people in place can rebuild the whole thing in a year or two...Manning went 13-3 his second year, and the Colts were a contender every year until the neck issues. If the right people are in place (that is the big if, and we don't know the answer to that one and won't for a couple of years), both parties should benefit. It really is the best scenario for everyone except people who are fixated on Manning rather than football. The Colts spend their money on draft picks and retooling rather than paying one player so much that 1/2 the team are free agents making the minimum (can anyone spell Joe Lefeged? I can't...)...Manning gets paid and has a chance to get another ring somwhere else. I am fine with that...he has been mostly a very class act (I wish he had not made himself the center of attention during Super Bowl week, but since the owner can't stop tweeting either, it was bound to happen), and he has made the Colts what they are today in Indy. I wish him the best, and I am rooting for a quick Colts turnaround. If Peyton wins a Super Bowl, good for him. Irsay is still doing whta is best for the whole team and the "Horseshoe", as he puts it.
  • Is Manning ok?
    I hope Manning can take a cue from Roger Staubach and walk away before he gets seriously injured. He didn't look too good at that press conference. Messed up neck and mouth twitches.
  • Smart Fans
    Anthony: I think the fans have demonstrated that they are smarter than the columnist on this one. Everyone I talk to is sad to see Peyton go; but, they are also aware of the fact that the team we have now cannot protect him, or a lead; and it will take some time (2-3 years probably) to get there. No one wants to see Peyton drilled on every down until he is down and out again. They also realize that if he goes to a team with a strong line, good running game, talented receivers, and decent to good defense, he can win and win big. The general reaction I hear is that Colts fans now have two teams they can root for! Oh, by the way, this stretched out too long, but Irsay and Peyton both showed a lot of class overall, and are a great credit to this city.

    However, if Luck can't get the job done, the fans will call for his head, and he will be replaced; so, he had better like preassure!
  • Bad choice
    Jim Irsay is a liar, and I have lost all respect for him. I've been a fan of the Colts since they moved to Indy, even through the bad years before Peyton, partly because the management and players, with a few exceptions, earned our loyalty and respect both on and off the field. But I cannot continue to support a team whose management has so little respect for the team's fans that it lies outright to us so easily and makes decisions like this. Irsay said so long as Peyton plays football, it would be in a Colts uniform. LIE! He could have made that happen, but he choose otherwise (probably following the advice of the new GM, who is getting off scot free but I believe bears much of the responsibility for this callous decision). Even in the press conference on Wednesday, in one breath, Irsay said it's not about money, and in the next, he talked about the salary cap. LIE! If that $28 million bonus was not there, we all know the Colts would have kept Peyton. If Andrew Luck is such a great prospect, he could only have gotten better by having the opportunity to learn the NFL game from the best quarterback who every played it, and the Colts could have found a way to make it work if they wanted to. Peyton, on the other hand, is a real class act, and Indy will miss him greatly! I look forward to having a new team to cheer for and follow, and that will be whichever team Peyton is playing for this fall. Good luck, Peyton! Here's wishing you many more Super Bowl victories in the very near future! As for the Colts, I doubt if they'll win more than four games next season, and I really don't care anymore, and most of the (former) Colts fans I've talked to feel the same way!

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