Somewhere toward the end of Jim Irsay's 40-minute print media filibuster Thursday, the Indianapolis Colts owner said something that sounded more like a wish than a fact.
"I think it's too early to bury this era," Irsay said. "This era has not disappeared yet. We still have players and coaches that have been around and had greatness. And Peyton (Manning), to say that his career is done and what we've done here is over, I think that's way too premature. . . . I don't feel like that era is done."
Sure, it would be wonderful to think that Manning, who is recovering from his third neck surgery in 19 months, will start practicing with the team in December and still have three or four years of great football.
But it's possible -- very possible -- the Manning era is done.
Let's all be grown-ups here: If the Colts get the first pick, they are taking Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. They would be clinically insane to pass up Luck.
Given the choice, would you take a quarterback who figures to give you 10 to 15 years of elite quarterback play, or one who is dealing with age and injuries and has, at best, three to four years of high-level play left in his body?
Being the inquisitive souls we are, we asked Irsay all the expected questions: If Luck was available, would they hold on to Manning for a year or two and make Luck wait? Would they pay the $28 million option on Manning's contract and then trade him for a king's ransom? Would they simply decide $28 million is too much for a year or two and just release him to avoid the salary cap hit and start over with Luck?
Irsay has thought about these things, but he won't answer because he can't answer. Not yet. There are still so many unknowns, so many moving parts:
Scenario 1: Manning's neck doesn't recover and both the quarterback and his doctors decide his career is done.
In that case, the question of what to do is moot. Take the best quarterback available out of the next draft and move on. Sad, but simple.
Scenario 2: Manning returns to health, but the Colts end up with the top pick in the draft.
You take Luck and worry about Manning's contract and his feelings later. This isn't a sentimental business. Ask Edgerrin James. Ask Marvin Harrison. Shoot, ask Joe Montana.
Back in 1997, when the Colts were trying to decide between Manning and Ryan Leaf, Manning approached Irsay one day and told him, "I would like to play for you, but if you don't pick me, I will kick your ass for the next 15 years."
To spin it forward, if the Colts don't pick Luck, he'll be kicking the Colts' and everybody else's ass the next 15 years. And Indy will be remembered as the team that let him get away.
Scenario 3: Manning comes back healthy, and the Colts don't have the top pick in the draft.
Then you go into "Win One For Peyton" mode. Draft defensive players. Grab a few free agents. Throw every resource into building a team that Manning doesn't have to carry on his back.
Scenarios 1 and 3 are straightforward enough. Scenario 2, bringing back Manning and grabbing Luck, is where things will get interesting and uncomfortable.
Do you draft Luck and ask him to sit for one year behind Manning? (Maybe). Two years? (No way. This isn't Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers). Would Luck even want to come to Indianapolis if he has to sit behind Manning? (No way of knowing.)
In February, the Colts have to decide whether to exercise a $28 million option on Manning's contract. That's a lot of money and a sizable cap hit, if the intention is to keep Manning just one more season. But there's another hitch: If you pay the option, you cheap jerseys from chinacan then trade him for a mother lode of talent. If you don't pay the option, he's released and becomes a free agent -- so you get nothing in return but avoid the money hit.
It gets very complicated; just writing that last paragraph has me grabbing two Excedrin Migraine. I can't imagine how you feel reading it.
"You really can't put yourself in April now," Irsay said. "You certainly contemplate it and you think about it and all those things, but I think how many quarterbacks are going to be there and that sort of thing: Is Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones coming out? How do guys grade out that are going to be there? That all weighs into it.
"I think that theoretically if Peyton is healthy and can go several more years but you see a potentially great player, his replacement and that sort of thing, that you'd look at that hard, but I think it's unknown at this point where we're going to draft, who's going to be there."
Manning, who spoke to the media Thursday, was asked if he would be willing to mentor Luck.
"Once again, that's a lot of speculation and I don't think that's fair to the players that are playing, to speculate on what draft choice the Colts wilwholesale jerseys free shippingl have," he said. . . . "We've never talked about what draft pick we were going to have before during the past 13 years, so I don't think it's fair to do (that) now.
"There will be times to answer all those questions. Y'all just got to practice a little more patience. You're just a very impatient group. You want to know what's going to happen in February with the contract, what's going to happen in April with the draft.
"All I can say is those times will arrive in February and in April. Until then, I understand it's fair to ask those questions, but I think we'll just address them when the times come."
Somebody mentioned to Manning that Phil Simms, the former NFL quarterback and TV analyst, said Manning wouldn't be on board with the Colts taking Luck.
"Yeah, I don't talk to Phil. Phil doesn't talk to me," Manning said.
(Manning later told The Star he has no problem with Simms but was making the point he didn't speak to Simms on the issue and wasn't asking Simms to do his bidding.)
"He did text me after that, saying, 'Hey, sorry to drag your name into this,' " Manning said. "I wrote back, 'Phil, I don't know what you're talking about.' He said, 'Well on my show, 'Inside the NFL,' I made this statement.' I said, 'Phil, I hate to break it to you, but I don't watch yourCheap NFL Jerseys show, along with a lot of other people that I don't think watch that show.' Giving himself a little more credit than probably was merited."
Yes, he was smiling, playful.
"Hey, this is the time for speculation," Manning said. "People speak what they think your opinion's going to be, what you're going to do. That's what people do. I've never made any statements. Anything that's going on, I'm discussing it with coach (Jim) Caldwell, (team vice chairman) Bill Polian. Everybody's in full awareness of what's going on and where things are."
Nobody wants to hear about the possibility the Manning era might be over. Nobody wants to think about that. It hurts to even write it. Manning is the most important athlete we've ever had in Indianapolis. His contributions are incalculable on and off the field. Without him, there is no Lucas Oil Stadium, no Super Bowl in February, maybe no Colts in Indianapolis.
But the greatest quarterbacks, the greatest dynasties, they have expiration dates.http://gang4.thai-forum.net/t6-topic