It’s one of the greatest travesties in sports. A franchise parting with a legend is never easy. But like Unitas and Montana before him, it is time for Peyton Manning to move on. After a 14 year romance, The Indianapolis Colts will part ways with their legendary quarterback Wednesday. The announcement will be made at a press conference scheduled for noon eastern time.
It’s like when Chicago had to say goodbye to Jordan, or when the Edmonton Oilers bid Wayne Gretzky farewell. It’s like when the curtains closed on Brett Favre in Green Bay, Joe Montana in San Francisco, or Emmit Smith in Dallas. And while the decision to cut Peyton Manning may be a tough pill to swallow for Colts fans, it’s a move that had to happen.
First, there’s the money.
Had the Colts not been in position to pick up Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the draft, maybe this break up wouldn’t have to happen. But Luck was there. 2-14 was there. The end was in sight. Jim Irsay knew that spending over $51 million on 2 quarterbacks could cripple the franchise, which is in desperate need of building blocks on both sides of the ball. It would have been fiscally irresponsible to spend a $28 million bonus on a 35 year old quarterback, even if he is one of the greatest all time.
An incoming rookie quarterback brought it’s own pressures.
Andrew Luck has been deemed by many scouts as the greatest quarterback prospect since “Number 18” was drafted in 1998. Analysts have tabbed him as the real thing, a can’t-miss prospect, a legitimate longtime starter. Not even Robert Griffin III’s impressive combine performance could prevent the inevitable; Andrew Luck as the No.1 pick. We are in a new era of NFL football where rookie quarterbacks can have immediate success. Just ask Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, or Joe Flacco.
But possibly the biggest factor in Irsay’s decision was Manning’s health. The NFL’s only 4-time MVP was coming off 4 surgeries and bone spurs in his neck, according to reports. In case your not a doctor, this is a big red alert for any quarterback. Neck injuries effect the tendons in the shoulder and the arm. If Manning’s neck isn’t 100%, it could affect his throwing motion, arm strength, accuracy, and velocity on the ball. Can he still play at an adequate level? Only time will tell.
It’s been a great run, but it was time to move on. Parting ways was the best decision for both sides.
With a new GM and coaching staff, Indy can focus on the future success of the horseshoe and hone in on the guy they’re banking on to be their franchise quarterback for years to come. With Reggie Wayne leaving and the majority of his supporting cast aging, there really wasn’t much left for Peyton to do in Indianapolis. The average career for an NFL player is less than 4 years. Manning will be 36 on March 24th. His window is closing. Being the competitor that he is, Manning wants a third super bowl appearance. He wants to be the fourth quarterback to win a Super bowl over the age of 35. The chances of doing that as the Indianapolis Quarterback was minimal. With Bill Polian out, the Colts that Manning would be returning to were not the Colts he’d led to a championship.
The bottom line is that there is no room for sentimentalism in football. If more owners went with their heart instead of their brain for business decisions, The Green bay Packers would not have won a championship in 2011, the 49ers would be missing a few rings, and the Patriots dynasty would not exist. Jim Irsay made a business decision. Only time will tell if it was the right one.