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. Cha

    I say he's with the Chiefs or Redskins next year.

    February 3, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. gyno_american

    He will sign with the Fins.

    February 3, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Floyd from Ilinois

    Go ahead, Dolts, screw your best player.

    You did SO well this year without him. And putting the thumbscrews to a future Hall of Famer who literally has given all to your organization, to the point of coming within in inch of crippling, career-ending, paraplegic-threatening injury on the field, will certainly inspire future signees to give their all for the dear old Blue.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • wayne317

      So you would pay 28 million to a guy that is not able to throw a football up to NFL standards? The NFL is a bottom line what can you do for me right now business.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • ChitowninDallas

      I agree with both statements. I followed Luck and I see nothing spectacular. Colts are done

      February 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Grumpy

    The Browns could sure use him! To determine Manning's worth to the Colts, Mr. Irsay need only look at the money he has "earned" since Payton has been his QB and this season's statistics.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. RFBurton

    It will be "Manning to Fitzgerald", next year

    February 3, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. sh

    If he's smart, he'd retire. As someone with back and nerve issues, a life of pain is not to be traded for 2 more years in the NFL. Retire Peyton, for your self.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • John Allen

      Excellent post, SH. Ever since last year, I have wanted Peyton to leave the game under his own power and by his own decision. The man obviously has one of the most serious injuries ever to be inflicted upon a player. He's accomplished everything a professional football could want: financial security for life, a super bowl win, a HOF certainty, and playing for a winning team his entire career. Peyton! Go on to the rest of your life and let football go...on your own terms!

      February 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeb

    They are trying so hard to get rid of manning. I hope they realize that without Peyton, they are going to be in the cellar for many years to come. Last season proved this.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. CrazyToComeBack

    I say he's crazy to play again. Go get some training in communications and become a broadcaster. It's not worth the possibility of becoming paralyzed for life.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • grammadee94

      I TOTALLY agree! There's no reason to push the envelope. GREED is what causes LOTS of people LOTS of problems and I would hate to see him paralyzed because he got too greedy.

      February 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    A 28 million dollar bonus? Perhaps he should retire and move on, but it's hard to walk away from that kind of money too I imagine.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      lol.. i'm sure 28 mil sounds like more money to me and you than it does to him..

      February 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Buck Jackson

    He should retire now at the top of his game.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janet snippp

      ur cute:)

      February 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve Snyder

    Football is over rated and dumb.
    bowlers only make an average of 300,000 dollars a year and they travel and usually work harder than dumbass football player. so peyton manning is not really worth 28 million even though he is my favorite quaterback.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tino

    Because of the money, lots of money ($28M), both parties, Irsay and Manning, will be forced to do something they know deep down they shouldn't. Irsay will trade Manning despite knowing that it's an unpopular decision and makes the Colts look very poor. Manning will seek to play anywhere/somewhere despite risking further serious injuries and complication from his neck. Money talks! Conscience walks.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ali1294

    I am a Colts fan because I am a Peyton Manning fan and have been watching him since college. If he is traded my loyalty will follow. I would really like to see him stay and mentor Luck then retire.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. grammadee94

    He'll wish he's retired if he reinjures himself and ends up PARALYZED!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lonewolf

    Manning will not be the same. In the back, if I get hit I could be done. If the defense got him he would get rid of the ball quick. The best for him is go into coaching.

    February 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
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