Are we in the middle of an image change? A closer look at the Peyton Manning saga

Now that the 2011-12 NFL season is behind us, we can finally discuss things that really matter.  Like Peyton Manning.  Don’t look now but with all that’s happened lately, we might just be smack dab in the middle of an image change.

Image changes are tough to put your finger on when they happen over time.  They’re much easier to pinpoint when a single faux pas leaves one’s name lambasted all over the media.  While all the cards have yet to be dealt, we might be approaching a time where we no longer fawn over Mr. Manning, which would be quite the change since it’s all any of us did for so long.

Think about it.  Not long ago, Tom Brady aside, Peyton was largely considered the best quarterback in professional football, if not to ever play the game.  Despite Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers getting theirs of late, Manning and Brady were still considered neck-and-neck, no pun intended, the two top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Eli just added some intrigue.  With one more Super Bowl ring (than his brother), we’re suddenly asking the somewhat legitimate question of which Manning will go down in history as the better quarterback.

Peyton Manning was the unanimous number one draft pick in the 1998 draft, his brother drafted first six years later.  Big things were expected after Peyton left Knoxville just like they are with his eventual replacement.  Perhaps you’ve heard of Andrew Luck.

Peyton eventually grew into everything we expected as a football player.  Even off the field, he shrewdly developed his own brand.  We soon found out he had a better sense of humor than most of us thought.  His Mastercard and ESPN spots were pretty damn amusing.  His United Way spoof on Saturday Night Live was equally as humorous.  Peyton was a goober, but he was a smart goober and he played to it well.

But right now, Peyton’s not laughing.  Neither is Jim Irsay.  Both have decisions to make.  Important ones.

Jim Irsay, owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts, recently signed Manning to a five-year, $90 million contract.  Little did he know, Manning wouldn’t play a down in 2012.  The Colts went 2-14 in his absence, thereby qualifying them for the rights to the first pick in the upcoming draft, aka, Andrew Luck.  The Colts must now determine, by relatively soon, whether they want to cut Manning and draft Luck, trade the rights to Luck (unlikely), or keep them both, which won’t be easy on the pocketbook as Luck will demand a healthy paycheck.  The Colts have until March 8 to decide.  If not, they’ll own Manning a $28 million roster bonus.

Things once cordial, if not familial, between Irsay and Manning have soured lately or so it seems.  Irsay didn’t like some of the things Manning said publicly, calling him a “politician.”  Even Rob Lowe got into the mix, Tweeting that he had heard Peyton was retiring.  Nobody knew what to believe.  Fortunately, Irsay and Manning kissed and made up, or so we think, but with little brother winning the Super Bowl in Peyton’s place, discussing the elder Manning’s status was hard to avoid.

There are lots of things we don’t know yet.  One of those is whether Peyton will ever be healthy enough to play another down.  Yet another is whether his image will take a hit.  He’ll probably win the war of words over Irsay.  He’s far more media savvy and there are no Irsay jerseys flying off the shelves at your local Sports Authority.  But personnel decisions like this are never easy to make, particularly when it comes to cutting a player who was so deeply associated with the franchise.  Irsay’s going to have to make a decision that’s best for the long-term success of the Colts.  That’s probably dropping Manning and signing Luck.

We’ve seen plenty of athletes ruin their brand by staying around too long, but in Manning’s case, it’s different.  His well-being is on the line.

When it’s all said and done, and all the decisions are put to bed, will we view Manning in a different light?  Will he come back and be the Manning of old?  Will he be playing in Indy or elsewhere?  Will he suffer?  Will he thrive?  Wherever he goes, will he overstay his welcome?  Will his love for the game write checks his body can no longer cash?  Will he ever even take another snap?  What of his legacy?  If his career is cut short, does he still go down as one of the greatest ever or just another brilliant career cut short?

At this point, we don’t know the answer to any of these questions.  What we do know is that there was a time not long ago when there wasn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t sell the farm to have Peyton Manning wearing their uniform.  There are still plenty now… but not without a touch of skepticism, particularly if he comes with a $60 million price tag.  Once upon a time, that would have been considered a bargain.

Despite Sprite’s old credo, image isn’t everything.  First and foremost, Peyton Manning’s full recovery is the only thing that really matters.

But it’s not all we’ll be talking about.

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54 Replies to “Are we in the middle of an image change? A closer look at the Peyton Manning saga”

  1. Pingback: Are we in the middle of an image change? A closer look at the Peyton Manning saga - BallHyped, NFL | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Chris

    Change is good after-all , doesn’t it offer us hope and something we can believe in ? At least that’s what ” Bazza” offered on his ascendancy to the Presidency ? BTW , Irsay and Grigson will be hard pressed fully explain to the fans their obvious maneuver in probably cutting Manning come 8th March . Do they pay him the $28 million due and then “ink” either Luck or Griffin to a deal in excess of $55 million with a possible $30 million as a signing bonus ?

    Re my piece on Josh Hamilton , we’ll have to agree to disagree ! The player has repeatedly placed himself in such situations and then has the audacity to use his religion as a crux ! He has chosen to do now not once , not twice but three friggin’ times . What does that tell you about the guy and his will power ? Remember how much the Rays stuck by him before for so before finally saying ….”Adios” ? And rightfully so !

    If Hamilton wants to show his contrition then let him stop acting like an immature child ! Oh by the way with regard to addicts I’ve worked with them specifically young military vets . It’s something I’ve been doing conjunction with a number of my work colleagues for a number of years ever since I moved up from Sth Florida .

    Hamilton went into relapse , he obviously sought not to contact a mentor or peer but comes up with his asinine excuse about falling off the wagon once again because of some personal issue . The guy is in complete denial and will continue be that way rather than seeking the appropriate help needed . What are Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels to do now ………. pat him on the wrist and tell him not to do it again ? Remember Donte’ Stallworth and his situation ? Let me pose this question to you were it not for Kinsler had he (Hamilton) gotten behind the wheel of his vehicle and then killed someone what type of discussion would we now be having now ? Food for thought don’t you think rather than the continued apathy being shown by the public in general concerning this matter !

    Chris don’t you use apathy as an excuse concerning this as well !

    tophatal ……………..

  3. I think the image change only happens if Peyton gives us a “Favrian” ending to his career. If he retires now due to the injury, all the stuff we’ve been hearing will burn off like so much morning fog.

  4. If Peyton decides to play again, where do you think he’ll land? I’m thinking he would turn Miami into a leading contender.

  5. Wait, Tim Tebow doesn’t matter!

    I think you gotta let him walk. Although it seems most feasible having someone like Manning groom Luck, this just doesn’t soon like it’s happening.

    The best situation for Manning may be to hit up Shannahan up in Washington and see if he can take them to the playoffs.

    Personally, I think the Colts are in a lot more trouble than people are thinking. I’m not so certain they won’t be winning 2-8 for the next for years.

  6. His well-being isn’t in question. Medical experts have said his neck is at no higher risk for injury than any other NFL player.

    “With one more Super Bowl ring (than his brother), we’re suddenly asking the somewhat legitimate question of which Manning will go down in history as the better quarterback.”

    This isn’t a legitimate question either. Kurt Warner had it right when he said Eli wasn’t even in the same league Mannings. Rings are a team accomplishment anyway.

  7. Al…

    That was one of my points on the Manning deal, Al. This is a tough decision these guys are going to have to make. It wasn’t easy when the Packers cut Favre. Many considered it a gamble, but it paid off. In the same way, the Colts are going to have to make that call and either way, it’s high-risk, high-reward.

    You bring up valid points regarding Hamilton. If the guy needs a full-time baby-sitter, then let him pay for one. I’m pretty sure he can afford it.

  8. Dub…

    I obviously had Favre in mind when I wrote parts of the piece.

    Remember, there was a time when many of us were calling Favre the best ever. Then he did basically everything possible to soil his image.

    I doubt Manning will go around texting pictures of his johnson to people but I could easily see him trying to stay in the league as long as he can.

  9. Aer…

    The amount he’s due to get paid will obviously be a crutch. I’m not sure how many teams have the ability to take on that salary.

    Plus, we’ll have to assume he won’t want to play just anywhere. With only five or so years left, he’ll want to play on a contender.

    Do you think Miami’s a contender?

    Although it would be nice to see Manning-Brady twice a year.

  10. DHS…

    Good point about Tebow, DHS. My bad.

    I wonder what the over/under is on non-football related Tebow stories ESPN can muster up until next training camp.

    I think you’re right on Manning too. Doesn’t Indy HAVE to get rid of him? Unless of course, they can afford to keep them both.

  11. RedMid…


    Let me ask you this. Do you think Warner is a hall of famer? Because I do. I was actually kind of surprised to hear those comments coming from him of all people.

    Yes, Super Bowl rings are team accomplishments, as you mention. And Eli’s career is far from over. But you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that the kid isn’t already on a clear path to Canton.

    And regardless of any doctor’s report, three neck surgeries is dangerous business in the NFL. Fusion or no fusion, one wrong hit and his career is over.

    Just as there are plenty of reports saying Manning’s healthy enough to play, I’m sure there are just as many doctors warning him about the dangers of suiting up again.

    If you’re Irsay, do you keep Manning and trade the rights to Luck based on that doctor’s report?

  12. Chris

    How much would you be willing to pay to baby sit an ##$hole like Josh Hamilton ? Haven’t the Rangers and Rays spent enough with regard to the repeated rehab stints over the years ? Or have you forgotten about that ? That (rehab treatment) by itself doesn’t come cheap and I dare say that the Rangers’ front office may well give him one last chance to get himself clean but if I were Nolan Ryan ……. I’d void his contract and tell …. him to go $$$k himself !

    One of the reasons the Packers cut Favre was because he’d become an ingrate and an infantile moron ! I mean as much as Favre craves attention talks about being a team player …….. it says a lot about the player when he stated to McCarthy after the team drafted Rodgers that it wasn’t his intent to the young player under his wing and teach him anything ! Please , Favre makes the ebola virus and deadlier communicable diseases seem almost tolerable . He’s essentially been a damn plague where he’s been over the latter part of his career !

    tophatal …………….

  13. If they got Peyton, yes. The Dolphins have a good defense and with a little tweaking and Manning calling signals they could make the playoffs and maybe win their division.

  14. It’s an interesting situation. I read somewhere that he’d be willing to sign a heavily incentive based contract if the Colts do cut him. Does that mean he’d take a incentive laden contract with the Colts even if they cut him to get out of the signing bonus?!?

    Random question for you, is Big Ben a HOFer? Eli seems to be immediately after winning his 2nd SB, so why isn’t there anything like that pushing for Ben?

  15. I hope the circus surrounding him ends soon. I can’t fathom the man passing a legit NFL physical unless a team is willing to sign off on looking the other way. I don’t see this ending well at all if he tries to play. It has already been sad his people tried to take over Super Bowl week IN INDIANAPOLIS by timing the announcement they’ve cleared him to play football again. Why wouldn’t they, they’re his people…they need him to get another contract, right? He isn’t playing for the Colts again, who look more and more like the adults in this situation…and who thought Jim Irsay would wind up looking better than Peyton Manning in this divorce? I don’t know the guy’s condition. None of us do or should act like we do. Everyone has an opinion like everyone has a…well, you know. From my personal experience with that part of the body, IMHO he doesn’t belong on a football field. I hope he retires. Today.

  16. Chris

    Cooper Manning is simply happy to bear the same name as his siblings . I hear it works well for him when it comes to being noticed by the ladies ?

    “Hi I’m Cooper Manning and I’ve two brothers who play in the NFL . Would you like to come back to my place and see my etchings ” ?

    I trust you were well entertained at the Amway Center last night ? . Terrific showing by the Miami Heat ………… aka big piece of turd from down South ! Raining three’s …… what I thought for one minute I was witnessing artillery shells being shot by the Magic !

    The Heat were simply bi##h slapped up and down that court and deservedly so !

    tophatal ……………………

  17. I think Peyton Manning – whether he ever takes another snap or not – does go down as one of the best QBs ever to play the game. Based on pure talent and commitment alone, his status cannot be questioned.

  18. Babysitting Hamilton, Al?

    I’d do it for a mil a year. Oh wait, that’d mean I’d have to give up drinking as well. Scratch that.

    Let me ask you this. Do you ever see Manning demonstrating some of those Favrian characteristics as he’s shown the door in Indianapolis?

  19. Win their division, Aer?

    Have you seen the Patriots schedule next year? We can only assume the Jets will be better than they were this year as well.

    And bringing in a new coach and quarterback, even if it’s Peyton Manning, will take some adjustments.

  20. Okay, Chap. First things first.

    I don’t know how much leeway there is regarding restructuring Peyton’s contract. I can tell you he, and his agent, are not going to be all that willing to revise most of that contract to make it incentive-laden. I mean, why would they?

    Your comparison between Big Ben and Eli is legit. But let me follow it up by saying this. Big Ben was always listed in that group of ‘elite quarterbacks’ where Eli wasn’t. I’d say they’re both on the right path to Canton but… Eli has never had the off-the-field/in-the-can issues that Ben has.

  21. SA…

    When you visualize that Manning physical in your head, can’t you just see Peyton’s agent slipping the doctors a couple hundred bucks behind closed doors to give him the nod? Shady.

    And I think you echo the sentiments of most football fans. The last thing any of us want to see is an injured, concussed Peyton Manning on the field after taking a vicious hit.

  22. See my etchings, Al?


    Did the older Manning brother go to one of those cartoon schools they advertise on late night TV? Hey, whatever works with the ladies.

    My boy totally hooked it up with the tickets last night. Club level.

    That new arena is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe Dwight would want to leave that place.

    And you’re right. LeBron failed to show up… but how is that in any way surprising?

  23. Mun…

    I think that’s a fair assessment. Just remember there was a time we were putting him on the same page as Johnny Unitas.

    Do we still do that?

    Or do we just chalk it up by saying they’re both great?

  24. Tough choices for the franchise and Peyton.

    The Colts should remove emotional attachment from the equasion and move on. Follow the Green Bay model. (And this from a Favre fan…His ON FIELD play anyway).

    Peyton can thrive in a number of places if healthy. Instant contenders could be made of Miami, Phoenix, Chicago and the Jets come immediately to mind.

    Denver maybe?

  25. Ok, let me re-phrase. What if the Colts cut Manning, Manning finds he isn’t going to get paid as much as he hoped, and knows that teams are going to be cautious with his injury so they only want to give him incentive laden contracts.

    Then decides to go back to the Colts because he doesn’t have as big a market for his services as he thought with said contract at a lower value.

  26. Nothing lasts forever, huh, Bleed?

    What do you think will happen to Kobe at the end of his career? Do you think he’ll bow out gracefully when he’s lost a step or will he try to stick around?

    Re: Peyton’s options? I think Chicago’s still okay with Cutler and I don’t think Denver would do that, do you? All the Tebow faithful would have a fit.

  27. Hmmmmm….

    Chap, I still don’t think that’s a viable option. If he passes other team’s physicals, I still think he’ll demand top dollar.

    Remember, agents run this whole thing and there’s no way Manning’s will not let him sign a deal that he won’t be able to retire off of.

    At least, I wouldn’t if I were his agent.

  28. Kobe will retire a Laker, no question. He may stick around a little longer than he should if he’s within striking distance of Kareem’s all time scoring record, otherwise he’ll leave as a 20+ pt per game guy.

    Cutlers ok but put Peyton on that squad and they’re legit…Same with Denver.
    I know everyone loves Timmy but with Peyton throwing darts, they’ll live with him as a backup for a few years under Manning’s tutelage…Shit, you could even play Tim as a halfback/running back…play em together at times…Imagine the flea flicker and option possibilities.
    Those frothing Broncos fans that are Tebow obsessed would still get a healthy dose of Tim…And more winning trumps that blind manlove they have for Orange Jesus.

  29. Bleed…

    What’s Chicago paying Cutler? I thought it was a pretty penny.

    I see a team that’s not locked in to big money in their quarterback giving Peyton a try, assuming the Colts don’t re-sign him.

    And how about Pau Gasol tonight? Kid was playing like a Spaniard possessed.

    Orange Jesus? Is that like Orange Julius?

  30. Chris

    I’m of the opinion that Cooper gets “all of the tail” he can handle as a wing-man for either Eli or Peyton !

    No truth to the rumor that Snoop Dogg will now become Josh Hamilton’s mentor and councilor . That might not go down well with the Rangers’ front office don’t you think ?

    Great piece in USA Today on Dwight Howard and the Magic’s owner Rich DeVos wish to see the player remain with the organization . See link inset here ?

    Orlando Magic owner dearly wants Dwight Howard to stay

    ORLANDO – Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos, 85, attends about half of the NBA team’s home games and rarely does interviews, letting those who handle day-to-day operations do the talking.

    In a spontaneous chat with a few reporters before Wednesday’s 102-89 victory against the Miami Heat, DeVos made clear he doesn’t want to trade Howard. He said he has had conversations with Howard, in his eighth season in Orlando, regarding a long-term commitment to the franchise.

    MORE: LaMarcus Aldridge heads All-Star reserves
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    PHOTOS: Top shots from the week in NBA action

    But DeVos acknowledged it might not happen.

    “He’s got to look at his options, what’s best for him,” DeVos said, “and I have to tell him what’s best for him. I’m selfish.”

    Click on link to read in its entirety .


    Remember the scene from DePalma’s movie “The Untouchables in which Connery’s character Jimmy Malone asks Costner (Elliott Ness) “what are you prepared to do ” ? . Well in this case I’m of the belief that the Magic will play “chicken” and end up losing Dwight ! The player dissatisfied with the moves and trades that have been made by the GM’s over the years .

    What’s the “Orlando Magic’s way “ of doing things ? You tell me ? A blood oath is not going to be forthcoming from anyone within the Magic organization as they’re not that bright to begin with ! I mean does Otis Smith have a god-damn clue to begin with ?

    tophatal …………….

  31. Eli went to Disney World and it added to his and their stature . In the meantime the operators of Legoland in Winter Haven can’t understand why no one is prepared to come there for a visit ? Whoa !

    tophatal …….

  32. If you were Chicago, would you hesitate to send Cutler packing if you could get Peyton?

    Pau stepped up. Maybe it had something to do with the All Star snub or his little bro making the squad. Either way, nice game and nice block to close it out.
    It always feels so good to beat Boston.

  33. Even if Manning did go full Favre and text pictures of his junk to bimbos, do you think it would have a misshapen head like he does?

  34. I think change can be good, especially in this case. too much has be said and a divorce is a good thing. Sure it’s sad to see. Most Peyton fans were hoping he would end his career with the Colts.
    I hope manning can come back (Even if he’s 80% healthy) and win another championship. That would place him at the top of the greatest of all time!

  35. Al…

    My boy and I heard the DeVos comments, looked at each other and simultaneously said “Oh, really.”

    Of course DeVos doesn’t want to trade Dwight Howard. Who in their right mind would?

    The question is, what is he going to do to get him to say. Or rather what CAN he do to get him to stay?

    Like you said…. what is he prepared to do?

  36. Bleed…

    Yes, I would hesitate.

    In fact, if I were the owner of an NFL franchise, I’d be poking and prodding the hell out of Peyton.

    In fact, let’s keep in mind, he’s no spring chicken. He’ll be 36 this year.

    How many good years is he going to give you?

    And where were your Lakers tonight against the Knickerbockers? And don’t give me that back-to-back stuff.

    No ‘Melo and no Amare means you gotta win that thing.

  37. Sportmentary…

    Thanks for chiming in. Dig the site.

    Let me ask you this.

    Would you take a chance on Peyton Manning for $60 mil for four more years?

    Keep in mind, it might not be four you’re getting, but you’ll be spending that money for sure.

  38. It’s sad that this had to happen to Peyton Manning. That goes to show you the nature of the NFL. People only remember what you have done lately, and unfortunately, Manning has been injured not doing anything, but trying to rehab and get better.

    I heard Peyton Manning’s arm is weak and while training hasn’t been able to launch crisp passes… It is still early, but I doubt Manning goes back to Indi. It’s go to another team or retire. I am a fan of the guy, it sucks that he’s in the middle of a situation, such as this one.

  39. BS…

    Great point, BS. Sports, like politics, entertainment, or anything else for that matter is definitely a “What have you done for me lately” league.

    But don’t you think Irsay has to be kicking himself for making that original deal? I mean, that’s where lifetime achievement contracts go sour, no?

  40. I don’t really sense an image change, nothing like Favre, which seems to be the be-all, tell-all image changer among historic QB’s. He’s still younger and the media is just all over this story so much, that we come up with our own opinions on how healthy he is, or will be. He needs more time to heal up, then we can see… right now, it’s all just speculation and no point in saying his image is tarnished. It’s not like he’s 40 and taking photos of his…

  41. Chris

    I’m pretty sure that De Vos is just like the Orioles’ Peter Angelos as neither knows what friggin’ time of the day it is , week it is , much less the year they’re actually living in !

    I bet Kobe Bryant now knows who Jeremy Lin is ? . Kobe and his boys got “schooled” and to think they weren’t even playing in Rucker Park ! Holla !

    Kobe can now either choose to learn some Cantonese or Mandarin and say “sorry ” to countless millions of Asian Americans (Chinese) in Cantonese or Mandarin _______ to go alongside his Italian ! Mandarin ……… ” dui bu qui “ Cantonese ……… ” Deui-m̀h-jyuh. ”

    tophatal ………….

  42. Yep Chris, I’m off of hiatus at least for now, but a friend and I made that site. Can you help submit a picture to us or promote it on twitter? JLin!

  43. I suppose I’m going off the assumption that Peyton is good to go with the doctor’s blessing. Not a big Cutler fan either. 2-3 years is more of a championship opportunity window with Peyton than Jay IMHO.

    Lakers got Linsinerated.

  44. I think that the Colts should trade Peyton. Even though I can’t imagine him on another team, they could probably get some good players from the Ravens(who despite having Flacco could use an elite QB) or the Dolphins. They should start rebuilding around Andrew Luck.

  45. Bleed…

    Lakers aren’t the only ones getting Linsinerated these days.

    And the Peyton saga continues. But I still don’t see Chicago on list of potential suitors.

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