Whoever thought that Rob Lowe, best known for his directorial debut the night before the Democratic Convention, would be the medium to announce the end of one of the greatest players in NFL history.
For Peyton Manning, the beginning of the end all started with a tweet: Rob Lowe announced on twitter roughly two weeks ago that Manning would retire, and insisted he heard it from a “damn good source”. Manning, rightfully ticked off, given that Lowe is very good friends with Colt’s owner Jim Irsay, granted Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star an interview a week later. In the interview, he said, among other things, “everybody’s walking on egg shells” at the Colts office.
Jim Irsay then used a press conference scheduled to introduce the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, as an opportunity to take some shots at Manning. The worst of which, and overlooked by most of the mainstream press was when he claimed, “…there’s been plenty of eggshells scattered around this building by him with his competitive desire to win”. Think about what he is really saying with that statement. Weren’t we told the exact same thing about ex-general manager/vice president Bill Polian’ s tenure with the Colts.
Manning then took the higher ground, called for peace and love, and last Friday he and Irsay issued a joint statement about their great relationship, and how it’s based upon mutual respect and trust, and more spinning of the story then is worth repeating. The joint statement did nothing to stop the feeding frenzy that went into high gear after that one little tweet.
All weekend long, Peyton Manning, his family, and Colts fans were bombarded by stories, commentary, and pundits, debating if there was a feud between Irsay and Manning, when the Colts would release Manning, and how he would never play again. The story overshadowed the Senior Bowl, and it’s overshadowing the Super Bowl to some extent.
Sunday night, Peter King of NBC Sports dropped the bombshell that Peyton Manning was struggling with his rehab, and was having trouble regaining arm strength in his throwing shoulder.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse for Manning, a clip aired on Monday, from an interview from Tuesday Night’s “Sports Center Special: NFL Face to Face” (9 p.m. ET), where Irsay states he can’t make decisions about Peyton Manning’s future on a “sentimental basis”. For Jim Irsay, “This isn’t fantasy football.” In other words, Jim Irsay has a great relationship with Peyton Manning as long as it doesn’t affect his bottom line.
Irsay, the businessman, couldn’t keep his mouth shut for one week, and let the Manning family enjoy this momentous occasion for Peyton’s little brother Eli. Instead, Irsay rather ignore the fact that were it not for Manning there would be no Lombardi trophy in Indy, no shiny new stadium and no Super Bowl for the City of Indianapolis.
One can only imagine what Manning must be going through: having to deal with the fact that his throwing arm isn’t responding like it’s supposed to be (regardless of whatever he says to the contrary), that his former friend, and boss is now treating him like chattel, and the mixed emotions Peyton has to deal with watching his little brother going to another Super Bowl.
On the one hand, he must be proud seeing his little brother Eli going to another Super bowl, yet in the big picture, Peyton Manning understands that the outcome of Sunday’s game will help decide his place in the annals of the NFL.
After the festivities of this week are over, Jason La Confora is reporting Manning will be cut sometime before the combine.
Manning will leave Lucas Oil Stadium a stranger. Left only with his thoughts of what could have been: riding out a winner like John Elway did in Denver. Instead, his last memory with the Colts will be a playoff game against the Jets, where an inexplicable time out very well might have cost him that second ring, and that ride off into the sunset.
No, there are no happy endings for a competitor like Manning. Despite all the accolades, his family, the inevitable Hall of Fame induction, the tragic way it ended in Indy is something that he will live with for a very long time.