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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Peyton Manning on life in no-man's land

By Paul Kuharsky


A short break from a few days away because Bob Kravitz’s piece out of an extensive conversation with Peyton Manning calls for comment.

Manning never speaks without purpose. Did he know Rob Lowe’s character in “The Outsiders” was Sodapop Curtis or did he have to look it up? It doesn’t matter. Mentioning it as he addressed Lowe’s tweet report of Manning’s pending retirement helped him put a laugh right at the top of his message.

We can read between the lines; that’s always the fun game to play out of such interviews. He likes to reset the message when he feels it’s off or when he goes too long without being heard from. And saying a lot now means, hopefully, that he can minimize his presence next week when his brother, Eli, takes center stage. Peyton won’t want to steal any of that focus.

He’s used to being in control and he’s used to familiar surroundings. Now, as he rehabs his neck and wonders about his future, he’s got little control and is working in a building where long-time friends and colleagues are packing up their offices.

From Kravitz’s piece:
"I'm not in a very good place for healing, let's say that," he said, referring to the practice facility. "It's not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least. Everybody's walking around on eggshells. I don't recognize our building right now. There's such complete and total change."

Certainly Manning controlled a lot about how the Colts played and ran their offense. He had an influence on the direction of things. He had strong relationships with Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell and many others.

He also played into the Polian paranoia and the thing where only a small circle of people were in the know, and that’s part of what Irsay has chosen to blow up with big change. That’s an overall good development. I don't know if Manning thinks so or not.

Peyton Manning
Quarterback Peyton Manning's future with the Colts remains up in the air.
Manning certainly likes control, and obsessing over details is his prerogative and part of what has made him great. But I believe his actual control over a lot of things has been generally overplayed.

It’s a lonely existence for him right now.

The only players at team headquarters are other rehabbing guys. The GM is new and his door is likely closed -- Ryan Grigson said he needed to dig into film to learn his roster and would put a do not disturb sign on his doorknob.

Grigson and Irsay are also trying to finalize their coaching search and hire Caldwell’s successor.

Manning doesn’t get to control who’s around him. And once the Patriots arrive in town and take over the Colts’ facility, he doesn’t even get to go to the office.

Manning is set to host a Super Bowl week party in his home city, but I expect he will do his best to be in the background or invisible through the week.

He’s sent a message for now, but it’s hardly conclusive.
"I mean, it's 20 degrees, it's snowing, the building is absolutely empty except when you see coaches cleaning out their offices," he said. "I guess it's the reality of the football world, just not something I've had to deal with very often. But I'm in there every day, so I have to sit there and see it. Everybody's being evaluated and I'm no different. It's not the best environment.

"I just want to pay tribute to all those guys. It's unfortunate because so many of them have been such a big part of so many big wins here, and this is so ... sudden. Their keys didn't work the next day. There's no other way to do it? I don’t know. That's hard to see, all these people leaving.

"And I may be behind them. Who knows?"