Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts have finally broken up. After all the speculation, the team made it official today and cut the best player to ever wear the horseshoe. It's hardly surprising, considering the Colts would have had to pay Manning a $28 million bonus this week if they didn't release him, and nobody has been able to say if he's even healthy enough to play next season after neck surgeries kept him on the sidelines all of this past season. Those injuries are why he should walk away now, while he still can.
Don't feel bad for Peyton. He's made around $174 million in salary in his career, including about $23 million for NOT playing last season because the Colts never put him on injured reserve, so he still got paid. Don't feel bad for Colts fans, who got to watch greatness week in and week out for 12 straight seasons, and knew they were a contender for 12 straight years (not including his rookie year). Don't feel bad for the organization, the value of the Colts reportedly went up more than $230 million during Peyton's time there.
Where Manning ends up will be the top story on ESPN and sports talk radio until he finally signs somewhere. He'll have his pick of Miami, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco and several other teams. Teams and their fans are salivating at the thought of Peyton lining up behind center for them. But is it worth it?
The risk each of those teams runs is a photo of Manning lying on the field, or getting carted off of it, wearing their jersey. Think about the lasting image of Manning's hall-of-fame career being the day it ended wearing a #18 Seahawks jersey because he took one more hit than his neck surgeries could handle.
If doctors are going to clear him, then obviously they feel that Peyton's body can handle it. Professional athletes are always going to think they can keep playing; it's in their blood and that's what makes them great. It's not easy to walk away from the adulation, the fame, the money and the game that they've been playing since they were kids.
Peyton could be hired as an offensive coordinator almost anywhere at any level that he wanted tomorrow. He could step into analyzing games on TV and be the most knowledgeable guy in the room. He and his wife are parents to twins, a boy and girl. His post football future is as bright as anyone's, so he should seriously consider calling it a career.
Article by Eric Gray