Let me start off by saying that Peyton Manning in my own eyes is the single greatest quarterback I have ever watched operate an offense. I think part of it has to do with me watching every snap over the past 14 years and the other part is only being alive for a mere 21 years, but hey, its not homerism if you're right. Instead of posters of beautiful women on my wall there are posters of Peyton dating back to his rookie year in '98. Instead of porno stashed under my bed there are Peyton trading cards and a Superbowl XLI DVD. When (if*) I go to confession I ask for forgiveness for worshiping a false God. With that being said, lets answer a few questions that Rome would be burning on if he wasn't such a dick and still had a show.
How did owner Jim Irsay handle this process?
I'd give him a B, curved to a B+ when I think about all the other owners in the league. In a time of transparency there is really nothing you can do anymore without the world finding out. Some of his tweets were questionable and the fact that he called Peyton a politician in public was one of his few slip ups but when it's all said and done, Irsay is a great owner who wants to win championships as much as the fans. He really saved his ass by flying Peyton on his private jet and driving him in his Range Rover (making sure to stop for the cameras). Peyton and Jim have a good relationship that will take a hit because of what happened but will prevail in the long run. In other words, they are on good enough terms for Peyton to come back and be involved in the Colts organization after he retires.
How Did Peyton Handle this process?
A+. Flawless. How many greats can more or less get run out of town for an unproven rookie who hasn't even been drafted yet, and not start a great schism? Uncle Chafe is calling Peyton's press conference the anti-"decision" and I couldn't agree more. Peyton is a ferocious competitor but he was all about class when it came time to be released. This was by no means a retirement press conference, it was simply an end of an era press conference and Peyton, for one of the first times I can remember, showed emotion that reminded me he is not a robot.
What are your thoughts on Luck?
Listen, if us Colts fans didn't believe in Luck, there would be riots in downtown Indianapolis right now. Peyton kept hinting at "circumstances" that caused this to happen. These "circumstances" were 1) Peyton getting injured and missing a full season which also was the first time he ever missed a game (there was no plan-B) 2) the Colts plugging in Kerry "I got too much gray hair in my beard to be a starter" Collins and Dan "I once ran out of the back of the endzone" Orlovsky which ultimately led to the Colts having the worst record in football and thus the number 1 pick 3) Andrew Luck, the highest rated college QB since Elway, coming out this year. Once in a blue moon he comes around and once in a blue moon the Colts have the number 1 pick. 4) Peyton having his 4th neck surgery in less than a year. Injuries are never a good thing and injured necks are even worse. 5) Peyton elected not to take the 5yr/$100 million offer that Irsay offered but rather took a contract that had an opt out after 1 year because he knew his neck was iffy. What a stand up move by Peyton (Eli has the same father also and has already restructured his deal this year, something Peyton does yearly more or less) All of these happened to coincide and ultimately led to Peytons release.
What are your thoughts on Peyton leaving?
I was holding back tears at the press conference, biting my lip. I never imagined this day happening, I thought the horseshoe would be on his helmet for his whole career. I even made a wager that Peyton would make every pro bowl until retirement, thinking he'd get in off his name if his stats ever took a dip. I have now become a Colts fan that will be rooting for Peyton to win rings until Luck has the Colts up on their feet running. Peyton for once wont have all the expectations in the world and will be able to play soul football much like Andy "Brink" Brinker could soul skate in the disney movie original. I wish him the best and am jealous of the fans of wherever he goes. Times they are a changin'.
Would you have done the same thing if you were the owner?
This is a tough question. The jury wont be able to settle this case until we see what Peyton does in his remaining years and what Luck does in his career. Winning cures everything so if Luck is able to get some jewelry, Irsay will look like a genius. Me personally, I probably would have traded the pick and reloaded for a 3 year run but that is just because I think Peyton takes last years Colts team to the AFC Championship minimum. Never in our lifetime have we seen a player that is more valuable to his team. He is proven to be worth 10 games but I feel the number is closer to 12. I understand it is a business and my business mind would tell me to move on but I just feel like my heart would never have the guts to let him go.
Was this handled better or worse than Brett Favre situation?
A million times better. The Favre situation was way more awkward, mostly because Favre is a dickhead. They were lucky to have Rodgers in the looms (I latched on to his greatness this year in the absence of "Football Jesus") and feel like the organization was the only one who really knew how good the kid was since we don't get to see practice. Rodgers did a seamless job replacing Favre and has laid out the handbook for Luck.
Where do you want him to go?
I want Peyton to take his talents to South Beach and bring his entourage along with him. They have a better defense than Peyton every played with (minus one defensive game changer like Dwight (who is now on the trading block)). He can bring his favorite wide reciever Reggie, who is so underratedly attached to "Da U" that he already openly admitted he'd follow. And he can also bring Saturday, the one guy Peyton trusts to have his hands near his gonads 80 times every sunday. This would allow Pouncey to move to guard, his normal position, and strengthen the o-line that already has Jake Long to protect his blind side. Peyton would have Marshall, Wayne, and Bess (assuming Stokley doesn't come pleading on his hands and knees) and Bush out of the backfield (assuming Bush learns how to pick up blitzes). A quick side note, the other day Devone Bess said he'd be "honored to play FOR Peyton" and then quickly corrected his statement to "play WITH Peyton." The guy is a head coach stuck in a QBs body.
Who would you root for if it was Colts vs. Peyton in the Super Bowl?
It would kill me but I would root for the Colts. I don't even want to think of the scenario but if the Colts were in the Superbowl that means Luck is the real deal and can match Peyton's total Lombardi Trophy collection in his first trip there. With that being said, I don't see this happening so I can sleep easy at night.
P.S. Yes I ordered a Peyton fathead before they sold out