Doctor OKs Manning to play, but Colts say hold your horses
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning indicated to ESPN this week that he planned to return to football.
February 3rd, 2012
07:59 AM ET

Doctor OKs Manning to play, but Colts say hold your horses

One of the NFL’s all-time elite quarterbacks is medically fit to resume playing after three neck surgeries and a season off, one of his surgeons says.

But the owner of Peyton Manning’s team pointed out in a tweet early Friday that the organization itself has yet to clear the 35-year-old, and NFL analysts said it’s still too soon to know whether he’ll have enough arm strength to compete.

The four-time NFL Most Valuable Player is “medically cleared to play professional football,” Dr. Robert Watkins Sr., Manning’s most recent surgeon, said in a statement Thursday night, according to NFL.com. Manning’s most recent surgery to relieve a pinched nerve a single-level anterior fusion came in September, sidelining him for the entire 2011 season, marking the first games he missed since his career began in 1998.

But Colts owner Jim Irsay, who has to decide by March 8 whether to pay Manning a $28 million bonus or release him, indicated early Friday what he’s been saying all week: The matter is far from settled.

“Peyton has not passed our physical nor has he been cleared to play for The Indianapolis Colts,” Irsay posted on Twitter early Friday.  “Team statement coming on Friday.”

At issue now is less about whether Manning is medically sound enough to play football, and more about whether nerve regeneration will be sufficient for Manning to throw the ball well, commentators on the NFL Network said Thursday.

“The nerve has been the issue for months, not the neck,” NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora said. “I’ve talked to people in the Colts’ organization who said, ‘We’re not going to respond to the report, because we don’t see any news in it.’ … There are times where he has tingling, has the wrong sensations; he can’t grip the ball, throw the ball with velocity. There is no consistency there.”

Manning, who was cleared to start throwing the ball two months ago as part of his rehabilitation, indicated to ESPN this week that he planned to return to football and that he planned to talk to Irsay about whether he would stay with the Colts "at the appropriate time," sometime after Sunday's Super Bowl.

"I really feel good. I continue to make progress every day," he told ESPN's Trey Wingo on Tuesday. "Everything that the doctors have told me has been on point, which is encouraging to me. I just had a great day today with rehab, just got back from the facility, and that's what we continue to do. Just keep trying to get better. So far I have. That's the plan from here on out."

The Colts have more than just Manning's health and his scheduled $28 million bonus to consider. The team, which went 2-14 without him in 2011, has the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft. Highly touted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is theirs if they want him, perhaps making the thought of releasing Manning, who will soon turn 36, a bit more palatable. And the Colts are already rebooting in other areas, having taken on a new general manager, head coach and offensive coordinator.

News about Manning's progress comes as the New York Giants and New England Patriots are preparing for the Super Bowl in the Colts' city of Indianapolis. Irsay said this week that he will talk with Manning about his future after the Super Bowl.

"I think it’s something that I would imagine would go into early March in terms of us having a conversation. It’s a serious medical thing. It’s a very complicated medical issue,” Irsay said, according to the Colts' website.

“I’ve said from the beginning, it’s a two-phase medical aspect,” he continued.  “Can he return to play at a really high level? (That’s) what his expectations are. That’s the only level he wants to be. Can he drill it (50 yards) in Foxborough in January when it’s 10 degrees outside? Is he going to be back to the highest level, the Hall-of-Fame level, he expects to play at? The second issue always has been the health and the risk of going back onto the field. They’re two separate issues. They’re complicated issues.”

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Filed under: Football • Indiana • Peyton Manning • Pro football • Sports
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Gonzo650

    Irsay ha stated his position and Peyton will want to win now. He's not gonna go to any team not primed to go to the promise land immediately, which is why I say HIS dream destination is San Francisco. Give this franchise a nice pinkie ring for our other hand Peyton

    February 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Peyton, you have nothing left to prove. Take your fortune and enjoy the rest of your life. I know you love the game, but it's not worth the risk of getting paralyzed or worse.

    February 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. larry5

    Okay to play is not the same thing as able to play and play up to the required standard. This is all business, nothing personal. That's how a player draws the major bucks to begin with so they should not have any hard feelings when they are cut.

    February 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. alan*

    Payton-Jesus would tell u the wisest thing RETIRE.its not like u need that 28M anyways.and your health is more important than that money.u have performed well to b in HOF. U are a proofen signal calller,b a quarterback coach in Indy or somewhere else.run away from the game,dont let the game kick u out.

    February 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bill Coondog

    God has truly blessed the Colts with the best QB to ever play pro football, and we are thankful for that. We would love to see the great one play another 20 years, but not at the risk of serious injury. We hope Peyton makes the best choice for him and his family, but pray he can play for us for a long time. Go Colts.

    February 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. fatboy br

    manning stop before its ova spend ur money wisely

    February 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. dee

    Irsay will not keep him and P
    ayton will retire no team will pay him

    February 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bluorangefyre

    He should retire. Let's not forget that something besides paralysis could happen if he is hit the wrong way. And what happens if the Almighty Peyton gets killed on field? HANS devices mandated on all NFL helmets?

    February 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Black Rat

    Trust me he`s not worried about 28million dollars he has that xs 10

    February 4, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Daniel Dalton

    MOST OF THE FOLKS ABOVE HAVE SAID THE RIGHT THING: RETIRE! YOU'RE RICH AND HAVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU WITH YOUR FAMILY. ENJOY IT. I'M A JOCK AND HAD TO QUIT BECAUSE OF A BACK INJURY. I GOT REALLY DEPRESSED BECAUSE JOCKS ONLY KNOW ONE THING. PLAYING BALL. THEY HAVE NO BACKUP PLAN BECAUSE WE ALL THINK THAT WE ARE GOING TO GO ONFOREVER.
    YOU'RE ONE OF THE GREATEST QUARTERBACKS THAT EVER PLAYED THE GAME. YOU DID IT! YOU HAVE NOTHING MORE TO PROVE. I'M SURE YOUR WIFE WANTS YOU TO RETIRE. LISTEN TO HER.

    THINK OF THE GOOD WORK YOU CAN DO TO HELP THE POOR AND HOMELESS FOLKS IN INDIANAPOLIS. YOU CAN START A FOUNDATION FOR THAT, AND GET ALL THE REST OF THE RICH FOOTBALL PLAYERS TO DONATE SOME MONEY. THEY ARE RICH LIKE YOU, AND ANYTHING THEY DONATE IS A WRITE OFF. MAYBE SOME OF THE RETIRED GREATS CAN HELP YOU OUT.
    WE HAVE 120,000 HOMELESS VETS IN THIS COUNTRY. HOW ABOUT HELPING THEM OUT?
    PEYTON, THERE'S MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL OUT THERE. GOD PUT YOU HERE FOR A REASON. LISTEN TO HIM.

    DAN DALTON

    February 4, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
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