UPDATE---Friday February 3, 2012---- Colts owner Jim Irsay rained on the Peyton Manning parade. Yesterday's news that Manning's surgeon cleared him to resume his football career. Irsay reminded everyone that it doesn't mean the NFL's team doctor concurs and that opinion is the one that is determinative.
The sniping between the two men reached a crescendo late Thursday night when Jim Irsay wanted to slow the enthusiasm down and reassert his authority. The news of medical clearance was leaked by the Manning camp to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Irsay doesn't bother with leaks, he takes to Twitter. A team statement is expected today.
Dr. Watkins, the surgeon who performed the surgery on Manning's neck last September, as well as a team doctor are reported by Chris Mortensen of ESPN, to have given Peyton Manning the green light. A video demo of the Manning neck injury posted below.
Mortensen said that one of the physicians advised Manning that if he had a son who played pro ball he would be telling him the same thing.
There are two questions surrounding whether football fans will ever see Manning take the field again and the first one has been answered. The second question is whether he has the capacity to throw the ball in at least an equivalent manner to his previous on field performances.
Reports circulated earlier this week that those who have observed Peyton Manning throw a football believe he has not come reasonably close to the arm sped that he has known.
Today's report of Dr. Watkins clearance, also included his advice to the quarterback to continue rehabilitation to see if the nerves in his arm can regenerate to a satisfactory performance level. Watkins had announced in December the the spinal fusion had achieved, "firm fixation."
Manning recorded a sit down interview with Trey Wingo of ESPN that has played on the air for a few days, during which he had nothing but positive things to say about his rehab progress and his hope to return to the playing field. That wasn't surprising.
The other part of the Manning dilemma is where he'll play if he chooses to resume his quarterback career. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts has expressed some concern about whether he would even trust what doctors say about Manning's safety if he goes back on the field.
Irsay has made major moves within his organization since they ended the season 2-14. Gone are the GM and those associated closely with him and gone is coach Jim Caldwell as well as some of his staff.
He has shown that he is not afraid of significant changes within the Colts as a whole. Why would he draw the line at starting fresh with another man at quarterback?
Irsay stresses the point that Peyton's recovery from a third neck surgery is a case of first impressions and it might be difficult to trust any doctor's opinion because of the lack of objective data to compare it to. That doesn't seem to bode well for Indy remaining in Manning's future.
The third part of this puzzle is the money owed to Manning and the looming presence of Stanford QB Andrew Luck, available to the Colts who hold the first pick in the NFL draft this year.
Is Peyton worth the $28 million bonus due and payable in early March as well as the remaining millions under his current multi-year contract? Is he worth that much to any team who would gamble on his health and well being?
Football fans are a step closer to learning the fate of Peyton Manning with the medical clearance reported today. The next steps will come shortly.