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Peyton Manning

March 20, 2012

On Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, and the Packers

As Peyton Manning to the Broncos becomes official today, I want to re-visit how we got here; I’ve been both very perceptive and very wrong throughout this process. Prior to Week 14, when the Broncos had gone 6-1 after a 1-4 start and Tebowmania was running rampant, I wrote about John Elway’s visible disdain for Tebow’s success:

2. The funniest subplot in the NFL right now is when Tim Tebow does something good and the cameras point to John Elway.

It is visually obvious that Elway hates Tebow’s success more than anybody. Every time Tebow runs for a first down, miraculously completes a pass, or leads a game winning drive, we see Elway initially look disgusted before realizing that the cameras are on him and forcing a smile that looks much more like a grimace.

While Elway is aware that the cameras are on him, it’s unclear if he realizes what his body language implies. Elway clearly believes that Tebow’s success is not sustainable, wants to build the franchise around a conventional quarterback, but is paralyzed by what he perceives as fluky success. Only the Broncos keep winning which serves the dual purpose of making Tebow harder to unseat and giving the Broncos a worse draft slot, making it more difficult to pick an elite quarterback.

Elway refuses to give Tebow a vote of confidence as long-term starter. Unfortunately for him, it really doesn’t appear as if he’s going to have a choice.

Continue reading On Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, and…

January 30, 2012

Where will Peyton Manning End Up?

At this point, it seems almost certain that Peyton Manning will be cut.  “According to sources who were involved in the Colts’ GM search, the organization was planning to move on from Manning weeks ago, well before this public squabble between the quarterback and his owner,” NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora said Friday on “NFL Total Access.” This is unsurprising, as Manning is due a a $28 million roster bonus on March 8th; trading Manning would result in a $38 million cap charge for the Colts.

As Indianapolis has the first pick in the draft and the ability to choose between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, it makes complete sense for them to re-build. What doesn’t make sense in hindsight is having signed Manning to a contract which ensured they could get nothing in return. What’s done is done, though, and the culprit of that mistake, Bill Polian, has already been let go by the Colts.

No longer obligated to speak politically, Polian’s words last week about Manning’s injury detail just how ambiguous the timetable of his recovery will be. “No one can know when and if Peyton’s nerve that controls the triceps muscle will regenerate completely and enough for him to play,” said Polian.  “The expectation is that it will.  When it will, no one can predict.”

Therefore, Peyton Manning speculation will be the Brett Favre speculation of the 2012 offseason and it will be three-tiered: Will he be healthy, When will he be healthy, and Where will he play? The longer his health is uncertain, the longer the story draws out.

To try to evaluate the third question, let’s assume that he is cut before his roster bonus is due and that his neck heals by, say, early July. Where will he end up? Here are my power rankings, from least likely to most likely:

Continue reading Where will Peyton Manning End Up?

September 22, 2011

Peyton Manning Sparks Debate

The first two weeks of the NFL season have been outstanding. The Lockout, which terrorized our lives for months, is a distant memory that has been almost entirely forgotten and has, if television ratings are to serve as a benchmark, only served to make the NFL even more popular.

The only major drawback of the season thus far has been the gaping hole left in Peyton Manning’s absence. Never in my lifetime has one player meant so much to his football team as Manning. Like clockwork, Manning had starred in dual roles as the Colts’ star quarterback and de facto offensive coordinator. Whether one rooted for or against him, his dogmatic and methodical control of the quarterback position made for compelling drama late into every season–week after week, year after year. With Manning, the Colts have been perennial Super Bowl contenders; without him, they are hapless.

Last week during the NFL pregame, Fox’s Jay Glazer dropped an absolute bomb shell about just how far Peyton Manning went to try to make it back this season. Glazer said:

I’ve learned that before his last surgery, Peyton Manning actually took a private jet out to Europe to get stem cell therapy, a therapy that is not yet approved in America. There’s different types of stem cell therapy; the one used in America is embryotic–that’s not what he had. Instead what they did was take fat cells, probably out of his belly, and put it in a culture. They try to almost turn back the hands of time with these cells, hoping that these cells are going to regenerate the area and the nerve in the neck. Peyton Manning is just trying to do whatever he can to get back this year.

Noting Glazer’s report, FoxSports’s Jason Whitlock posed the question as to whether it would have been morally wrong for Manning to use HGH to help heal his neck, opening up a debate about the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy as a whole. In his NFL Truths column, Whitlock wrote:

I’m just talking hypothetically. I don’t have any reason to believe HGH or any other steroid would help Manning’s recovery. But who knows, maybe they would? If so, would you be outraged if he used them to save his career, save his season?

 Let me tell you who wouldn’t be outraged: 1. Colts fans; 2. Peyton Manning; 3. Jim Irsay; Jim Caldwell; 4. FOX, CBS, ESPN and NBC executives; 5. Manning’s teammates.

As part of Deadspin’s NFL Rountable discussion with Slate, the excellent Tommy Craggs expanded on Whitlock’s hypothetical question and juxtaposed it with reaction to Manning’s stem cell story:

All the tired old PED arguments are applicable here—it’s not “natural”; it’s an unfair advantage; it screws with the sanctity of the record books—but no one, that I’ve seen, has trotted them out. That’s a good thing, but it also tells me that sports types care about those arguments only to the extent that they can be fit into the prevailing hysterias of the day.

Craggs’s implication here that the stem cell therapy was not vilified by “sports types” as performance enhancing because it lies outside an already-crafted-narrative is an outstanding point. Taking it further, it is curious that there would not be even MORE outrage to Manning’s stem cell surgery than if it was found out that he used HGH. Where this form of stem cell therapy is illegal in America, HGH use is banned by the NFL but there are at least some instances where its therapy is permitted by law. According to ProFootballTalk, Peyton Manning’s procedure did not violate NFL policy.

Going forward, it will be very interesting to see what the broader implications of this story are. The bodies of elite NFL players are incalculably valuable on many different levels and the league’s reaction to this situation could set a precedent for players’ going overseas to pursue healing methods that are not permitted in the United States. As medical technology becomes more and more advanced, it will be fascinating to see how this all plays out with regards to whether the NFL re-evaluates its policies on steroids and HGH as well as whether it continues to allow its players to seek innovative treatment in other countries.

August 24, 2011

Will He or Won’t He: The Peyton Manning Edition

Anyone who watches enough ESPN or NFL Network has probably already grown tired of the speculation as to whether Peyton Manning will or won’t be ready for the Colts opening day match-up versus the Texans in a little bit over two weeks. Spoiler alert: whether he or the Colts actually know it now or not, he will play. We all know this right now but that won’t stop us from hearing about it incessantly possibly all the way up until 90 minutes before the game.

“The lockout didn’t allow me to work my (Colts) therapist, Erin Barill, and I’m just not comfortable taking any chances with this thing,” Manning told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. ”Erin knows me. He’s rehabbed me through two other surgeries (neck and knee) and I think most people understand that once you build up a trust with your therapist, that’s the guy you want and need to work with.” Since entering the league in 1998, Manning has started every game for the Colts, all 208 of them. Are we really supposed to believe that Manning, who could have had instant access to any number of the BEST DOCTORS IN THE WORLD, would have chosen to delay rehab at the possible expense of missing a start? If this was a legitimate danger, he could have hired Barill away from the Colts and paid him personally.

Are we also to believe that Manning’s not being ready is even more possible because the Colts signed corpse statue veteran Kerry Collins today as an insurance policy? Insuring Peyton Manning with Kerry Collins is like taking out a policy on a Bentley that covers $100 of damage. Collins is better than what he have seen of Curtis Painter but is not the solution the Colts would look for if Manning really was not going to be ready to play.

Whether or not the Colts beat Texans (who are my sleeper), I think Manning will go on to have a great year. He has been too methodical and too consistently great for me to think otherwise before a season until he is not.

Two things in this situation are certain: Peyton Manning will play and we will grow so exasperated with the Will He or Won’t He speculation that we will somehow grow even more excited for football to finally start.

Twitter @sportsrapport

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