The invitation is extended. Jim Irsay made that perfectly clear.
If Peyton Manning wants to retire as a Colt, he is welcome to do so.
Manning is far too nice to respond the way I would.
“Are you serious?” would be my response, perhaps with a few adjectives interspersed.
“You essentially cut me in the mistaken belief that I am damaged goods, then watch me take Denver to two Super Bowls and now invite me to come back.”
Uh, Archie and Olivia raised their boy to be polite. No thank you.
Indy fans should let go of that fantasy. Let’s just bask in the vicarious glory of Manning’s Super Bowl triumph. This is a win that belongs to Manning, a Broncos defense and its Denver fans.
We are just fortunate to bask in the glow as fans of Manning’s former team.
It seems presumptuous, if not downright arrogant, to suggest that Manning may want to return to the Colts for a ceremonial tip of the hat.
Let’s not forget the circumstances of 2011 that led Irsay to unceremoniously dump Manning. Oh sure, there were many reasons, including the potential to draft Andrew Luck.
The prime driver, though, was a belief that Manning was washed up, used goods ready to be put out to pasture.
Indeed, there was reason for doubt. As Archie Manning recalled, it was painful watching Peyton Manning try to throw after three neck surgeries. The zip was gone. Whether it would return was a question without an answer in 2011.
So, Irsay and the Colts released Manning. This was handled as delicately as possible, but the reality was clear. Manning was expendable because the Colts thought they had someone better in Luck.
Maybe they were correct, but not so far. Manning’s Broncos have been to the Super Bowl two of the past three years, winning it Sunday.
Yes, there is much more involved than a quarterback. Yes, Luck is a franchise player whose best years are yet to come. Yes, this is not a popularity contest. But the only reason that Manning is not a Colt today is solely a decision of Irsay.
Whether Manning now retires is up to him. As he indicated Super Bowl 50, he has a lot of people to thank and a lot of Budweisers to drink first.
Give him that space to reach a decision that seems all too obvious given the storybook ending to this season. Manning turns 40 next month.
But stop with the Colts’ invitation. That is perhaps polite. But it seems more like the guy who dumped his girl only to see her become prom queen. Yes, you can be happy.
Manning was a Colt. Be happy for that. Now, he is a Bronco. Be happy for that.
Most of all, be happy that a legend in Indianapolis has defied medical odds and gone on to be a legend in Denver, as well.
Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal of Johnson County, a sister pa
per of The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].