COMMENTARY | Peyton Manning, in his first television interview since the 2011 season ended, told ESPN on Tuesday that he plans to return to football, but he and Jim Irsay, the Indianapolis Colts owner, have not discussed his future. Trey Wingo conducted the ill at ease interview.
The timing couldn’t be more unusual, being that his brother Eli is playing in a Super Bowl that’s being hosted by the city of Indianapolis, in the house that Peyton built. Peyton mostly talked up Indianapolis and how much of a good job the cities doing hosting the Super Bowl, like a congenial host.
When asked about his health, Manning told Wingo, “The doctors and I have been in constant communication, and everything they are saying is that I will be cleared. I’m just continuing to rehab and enjoy this week.” He continued to say, probably after this week, that Wingo, and everyone else in the media, will know all the details about his future. Possibly a hint?
He revealed that he was going to dinner with Jim Irsay on Thursday, but it’s a large function with a lot of people there, it’s not the time or place where they would discuss contract negotiations. Manning said, “My relationship is great with Jim Irsay and this week is about the city and the Super Bowl.”
It’s beginning to look clear that Manning wouldn’t be going through all the rehab if he didn’t intend on coming back to the Colts. It also seems he wants to resolve everything after Sunday. His mindset is simple: he is getting ready to play football again. Retirement was never an option in his mind.
Wingo asked, “There’s another date out there, that everyone knows, March 8, when you’re due a substantial bonus, what do you need to know before that date, so that you’re comfortable, and the Colts are comfortable with what happens next with you?”
“That’s hard for me to answer. Certainly, Jim Irsay and I are going to talk, ah, it’s tough to do it this week, he’s got a lot going on,” Manning answered biting his lip.
Asked to predict what conclusion will be made, Manning was hesitant.
“I cannot predict that,” he answered. “I think it’s well documented how I feel about this city, the fans, the Colts, Jim Irsay. It’s well documented. Tough decisions have to be made. They’ll be made at the appropriate time. This is just not the week to do it. It’s not the week. I know people can talk about it, that’s fair, that’s part of the game. It doesn’t mean that I have to add to that conversation, and I just don’t plan to.”
He wants to resolve the situation sooner than later, maybe next week. There is one thing you can take away from the interview; it’s that Manning still has a competitive fire. Only Jim Irsay knows how long that fire will be burning for the Colts organization.