Peyton Has GOT To Go…

Posted: January 27, 2012 in NFL
Tags: , ,

I realize that if commonsense prevailed more often the world would be a better place, not to mention a smarter place.

With that thought in mind, surely Peyton Manning has played his last game as an Indianapolis Colt. Colts owner Jim Irsay has cleaned house, firing his top personnel man, his general manager and his coach. After a miserable 2-14 season, ending a decade-long run as an AFC power, why would he keep his aging, physically-impaired superstar quarterback who just missed an entire season?

What the Colts face is the epitome of rebuilding a franchise. To include Manning, 36 and recovering from his third neck surgery, in that rebuilding would be akin to building a Florida mansion without a central cooling system. The fact that the Colts have the No. 1 draft pick and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck — considered the best prospect at his position since . . . well, since Peyton Manning — is available seemingly makes it a no-brainer.

This isn’t about whether or not Manning can still play at a high level. Even if he has another two or three years remaining as a Pro Bowl-caliber QB, the Colts showed enough holes during the 2011 season to make it obvious rebuilding is needed. I consider it a coincidence that the Colts’ near-total collapse happened the same time Manning was out.

Even if Luck wasn’t available the Colts should consider releasing or trading Manning. He’s due a $28 million signing bonus this spring. His salary takes up a huge chunk of the team’s salary cap. That money can best be spent on younger talent.

In a perfect world a player of Manning’s ilk would always be a Colt. There is something charming about a player spending his entire career with one team. How could Cal Ripken be anything but an Oriole; John Elway anything but a Bronco; Ted Williams anything but a Red Sox; Dan Marino anything but a Dolphin; Mickey Mantle anything but a Yankee? But there are far more great players who end their careers wearing “strange” uniforms. Think Babe Ruth, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Emmitt Smith, etc.

Indeed, this isn’t a perfect world. In the real world the best franchises are constantly rebuilding, getting rid of players on the downside of their careers but when they still have value. Think of the 49ers of the 1980s who remained a power while shipping away such Hall of Famers as Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott when they could still play at a high level. Clearly the Colts waited too long in changing various pieces and stupidly didn’t sign an understudy for Manning. That, for the record, is ultimately why team architect Bill Polian was fired.

If Luck turns out to be anywhere near as talented as advertised, the Colts can be back as AFC South contenders in a year and AFC contenders is two or three years. If not, well . . . not so good. Either way now is the time for them to say thanks for the memories and send Manning to another team or retirement.

It’s called common sense.



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