hate can’t stand Peyton Manning the quarterback. I hate strongly dislike his clock-eating, boring, change-every-play routine pre-snap. I hate abhor the way Manning bounced the Patriots in 2006 on his way to his lone Super Bowl win. But right now, I feel sorry for the way that he’s detracting attention from what should be the Manning (Eli)- Brady showdown Part II.
In his interview with the Indianapolis Star, he said:
“I don’t want to get into some kind of fan campaign with the owner, but I think it’s well documented that I want to play in the same place my whole career,” Manning told the newspaper. “It’s been a privilege to play here. I love the fans, the city, the transformation of the fans, how our place has become the toughest stadium to play in, the fact our fans wear more jerseys to games than anybody else. It’s been fun to be a part of that.
“But I understand how it works. I understand tough decisions have to be made. There’s personal and there’s business and that’s where we’ve got to separate the two. I’ve seen other guys leave places and it was personal. I’ve invested too much into this city for that to happen. We live here, we’ve given lots of time and money to the community and our church, and that’s never going to change. Nothing changes that.”
Manning is deluding himself if he thinks this isn’t business. He’s owed TWENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS for 2012-3 if he re-signs, in addition to the pile of money the Colts are obligated to lavish on Stanford’s Andrew Luck. While most pundits are pointing to the Joe Montana trade from the San Francisco 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs, I’d look elsewhere.
Notice that Manning says the place doesn’t look the same: considering the Polians and Jim Caldwell (and Tony Dungy) are all gone, that’s no surprise. But how about losing his whole starting wide receiver set (and then some) with Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, and Pierre Garcon going out as free agents with little chance they’ll be re-signed, and buddy/center Jeff Saturday likely to join them on the market?
This smells a lot more like the Jordan example, the Michael Jordan example, that is. With Scottie Pippen demanding a trade, Phil Jackson heading into “retirement,” and Dennis Rodman unlikely to be re-signed (he’d end up in L.A.), Jordan retired. At age 39, were the Bulls really going to pony up THIRTY-THREE MILLION DOLLARS again? Of course not. So, there’s MJ, the face of the franchise, the guy who sold most of the jerseys, who made the arena the toughest to play in, who had the “for the love of the game” clause written into his contract, and he walks away, 99.99999% sure he’ll never play again?
If we’re going to complete the comparison, and factor in three neck surgeries, then maybe Manning needs to see the writing on the wall. He broke a bunch of records and won a Super Bowl. He might not go down as the best Manning to play in the NFL (maybe second best). But considering the MJ comparison, don’t you think Jordan would (really!) take back those two years trying to pick-and-roll with #1 bust Kwame Brown? (It’s not like the Bobcats are working too well, either.)
Manning needs to consider his own “mortality” as we all should. What matters? How can we do it best? Is sacrificing our standards (like what the Mannings mean to Indianapolis) worth giving up to pursue success or “fame?” Does proving we can still perform at the same level when our bodies, our time, or our priorities betray us really help us or does it hurt us? We all are playing with a limited time in so many standards, and every second we spend matters. Sure, he’d be a great comeback player if he returns and can do it next year, but rather than running a publicity campaign by not running a publicity campaign… maybe he should just enjoy the time he has spent, and appreciate the new opportunities still to come.