NFL Nation: Colts release Peyton Manning

Rest assured, Romeo Crennel is not crazy.

As expected, the Kansas City Chiefs have joined the scrum for newly free Peyton Manning. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Chiefs are one of 12 teams that have reached out to Manning’s representatives since he was released by the Colts on Wednesday. Denver is also among the teams to contact Manning’s folks. The Broncos did so soon after Manning was cut.

Manning
The Chiefs’ foray into the Manning sweepstakes is not unexpected. The Chiefs have been linked to Manning for weeks. At the scouting combine last month, Crennel, the Chiefs’ head coach, said he’d be “crazy” not to show interest in Manning if the quarterback became available. Manning is available, and Crennel is not crazy. Here are my thoughts why Manning would be a nice fit in Kansas City.

There is reason to believe Denver and Kansas City can be in this race for the long haul. Schefter reports that Manning, who wants to sign with a new team within in a week, would prefer to stay in the AFC. In addition to the Broncos and the Chiefs, among the reported teams that are interested in Manning that reside in the AFC are Miami and the Jets, and there could be others.

In addition to finances, Manning is likely going to base his decision on supporting cast, and the chance to win immediately. Both Denver and Kansas City could be attractive to Manning. Here are my reasons why Manning would be interested in Denver.

Folks, this deal can get very interesting if the Broncos and the Chiefs are serious about their interest. Stay tuned. I have a feeling news will develop quickly in this process.
There is very little to criticize about the career of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. He's a complete quarterback on the field -- one of the best of all-time -- and a standup citizen off the field.

But if there is one thing you might be able to nitpick about Manning throughout his career, it's that he likes control -- and plenty of it. Once Manning proved himself in Indianapolis, the offense, playbook -- everything was built around Manning. He was essentially the quarterback, offensive coordinator and, to some degree, the head coach when the Colts had the football. AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky examined this topic Wednesday.

In the AFC East, are the Miami Dolphins willing to hand Manning the type of unquestioned offensive control he had in Indianapolis?

We've seen it every week: A play is called, and Manning goes to the line and changes it two or three times into a play he likes better. Usually, it works. But at the same time it's tough on a head coach and offensive play-caller, who doesn't have nearly as much control as with other quarterbacks.

The topic of control is a quiet but important one for Manning. He's not going to join a team unless he has a lot freedom in the offense.

That's not a concern for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who is not a football guy and desperately wants Manning to make a splash and sell tickets. General manager Jeff Ireland probably cares to some degree, but not too much. The brunt of this falls on rookie head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who are both considered good offensive minds.

Philbin and Sherman are in the process of implementing a West Coast offense, a system Manning didn't run in Indianapolis. Manning won't be a spoke in the wheel. He has all the leverage and needs to be convinced he's the biggest cog and decision-maker on offense. If Manning can't get that in Miami, he will get it in Arizona, New York, or somewhere else.


All but a handful of teams would be better with a healthy Peyton Manning at quarterback.

So while we know that at least 12 have inquired, why wouldn’t all those teams that could upgrade be constantly calling his agent?

Well, it’s not quite so simple.

I think all but a handful of teams should do their due diligence and check in to see what Manning wants most. Maybe you’re more of a fit than you think.

But let’s consider some reasons a team might not pursue him.

Health: Sure if he is interested in you, you’ll get to see him throw and your medical people will get to examine him and look at all the X-rays, MRIs and tests they could want. Different teams have different standards. Some may judge him to be fine and believe he’ll be close to his old self by the time the season starts. But others may believe he’s insufficiently recovered or is too much of an injury risk.

Money: He’s set for life, of course, and has plenty of other sources of income. His camp has indicated he’d be fine with an incentive-laden deal that will protect a team in the event his heath prevents him from contributing the way both sides would imagine when he signs. Still, there is going to be more than one team that wants him. And one way to edge out the competition is to ramp up the money. It’s reasonable for a team to decide it doesn’t want to play that game. Not every team will be able to afford Manning even if they want to.

Long-range plans: The NFL is generally a meritocracy. GMs and personnel folks are always looking to upgrade. The better guy is supposed to play. But you also build a team with a long-range plan, and some methodical teams won’t want to discard theirs for a three-year run with Manning. It’s easy for fans to say, "Just alter course, he’s an all-time great." GMs generally don’t get as anxious and jumpy. Here’s a situation where maybe more should.

Loyalty and fit: Let’s use Houston as an example here, as I do in the video above. Is Matt Schaub at the same level as a healthy Manning? Nope. Would the Texans be a Super Bowl favorite with Manning? Yep. But they may be a Super Bowl favorite as they are. They’ve invested a lot in Schaub and don’t want to pull the rug out from under him. Plus, Gary Kubiak’s offense is heavy on bootlegs and rollouts. Those aren’t Manning’s game. Certainly a team could scrap it and craft things for Manning. But if the owner is loyal to the coach and the coach is loyal to the quarterback, they don’t want major changes to an offense that’s pretty effective as currently constructed.

A desire to develop your own: I hesitate a bit to call Manning a mercenary. Everybody in the league is one, really. But say you’re the Titans and you’ve invested in Jake Locker. Is it irrational for them to think, “We want to develop Locker. We hope he’ll become our Peyton Manning. Maybe not an all-time great, but a guy who anchors a successful team for 10 years”? Manning is 36. If you project a young quarterback to be a star for you, do you just push him aside for three years? Sure he’d learn a lot watching Manning work, but not nearly as much as if he got into the lineup himself. It’s OK to want to find your guy instead of going out to get THE guy.

Alternate needs: Stick with the Titans as an example here. Be honest and unemotional as you answer this: Would the team as currently constructed improve more if it had Manning at quarterback or Mario Williams at defensive end? I’m not saying they wind up with either. But the distance between their quarterbacks and Manning is smaller in my eyes than the distance between their ends and Williams. Other teams will have similar situations. Would it be great to add Manning? Sure. Do they have other holes on their roster demanding more attention? In many cases, it’s likely.

An NFL world gone Manning-mad

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
10:28
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Sometimes I think I'm crazy, but in this case I'm pretty sure it's not me but rather the rest of the world. Adam Schefter is reporting that 12 teams have already called on Peyton Manning and that Manning wants to have his new team picked out within the week. While Adam also reports that Manning would prefer to stay in the AFC, the Washington Redskins are one of the interested teams, and that gives me license to vent my confusion on an NFC East blog. Ready? Here goes.

[+] EnlargeManning
Jerry Lai/US PresswireDespite his health concerns, numerous NFL teams seem to be in a hurry to sign Peyton Manning.
How is it even remotely possible that an NFL team could confidently commit real money to Peyton Manning by this time next week? How is it possible that there's about to be a Manning bidding war among one-third of the teams in the NFL when no one knows how healthy his neck is or how strong his arm is? How can you even consider signing Peyton Manning without having a team of doctors who have had their hands on him swear up and down that he's going to be fine -- just as good as he was before the neck injury, don't worry about it.

There's no way that's happened in the past 18 hours, which means there's no way for any of these 12 teams to know what they're bidding on. The idea of signing Manning isn't crazy. The idea of all of these teams being interested in Manning isn't crazy. What's crazy is the rush. Why in the world would everyone be in such a hurry on this?

I have written many times that I think a healthy Manning would be a great 2012 solution for the Redskins at quarterback, and I stand by it. But I have also assumed (apparently incorrectly) that the Manning market would take some time to develop. I assumed this because of the health question, which is gigantic. I don't know if the guy who cried through his farewell statement Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis is healthy. Neither do the Redskins, and neither do the Dolphins, Cardinals, Broncos, Seahawks, Chiefs or Jets. If Manning's going to sign within the next week, and if he's going to get big money (as I imagine he is, with a third of the league interested), it's going to be by a team that's taking a massive risk. I don't think it'd be wise for the Redskins to sign Manning to a great big deal within the next seven days. I don't think it'd be wise for anyone to do that.

One possibility that crossed my mind while reading this stuff was this: Perhaps the Redskins are striking an aggressive pose on Manning in an effort to get the Rams to move toward them in negotiations for the No. 2 pick in the draft. It's Robert Griffin III that the Redskins really want for quarterback, and they need to move up to No. 2 to get him. If the Rams have been playing hardball in negotiations, the Manning thing could conceivably scare them into softening up. If Manning signs somewhere like Miami, Washington or Seattle, the Rams could lose a suitor and, by extension, some negotiating leverage with the suitors who remain.

Maybe the Redskins really want Manning. But I don't see how they can be sure enough about his health yet to really make that call. So maybe this is some kind of negotiating tactic to help them get what they really want. If it is, that'd be a pretty smart move. Certainly smarter than signing Peyton Manning sometime in the next week.
The courtship is on, and according to ESPN’s reports, Peyton Manning could have a new team within a week.

Manning
A dozen teams contacted Manning’s representatives Wednesday after his release by the Colts became official.

As he got to Miami, where he has a home, he reiterated he hadn’t yet considered where he’d like to play next.

Manning has supreme focus, and I believe he’s been working out hard and trying to sort through a lot in his head with regard to a parting with the Colts. But even as strong-willed as he is, it’s human nature to think about what’s next when you know something is coming to an end, no?

"I literally have not had one conversation with anyone about these teams,” he said in South Florida. “It's been so hard for me trying to figure out some closure with my situation with the Colts. I haven't thought about teams, and I don't know who is interested. I really don't.””

If that’s the case, he’s done a great job insulating himself from a lot of talk, and his friends have done a great job resisting starting that conversation.

It sounds like Manning will have “significant dialogue” with suitors, consider a list, whittle it and then make some visits to investigate opportunities and show people his arm.

What a whirlwind week of speculation we’re about to face. It should be pretty fun.

Video: Polian on Manning's departure

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
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ESPN analyst and former Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian talks about Peyton Manning and the team's future.
The Peyton Manning speculation will continue until Manning signs with another team, health permitting.

Longtime NFL agent Eric Metz, who represents Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and top assistant Russ Grimm, weighed in Wednesday with comments strongly suggesting Manning could be throwing passes to Larry Fitzgerald in 2012.

Metz, speaking on XTRA Sports 910, punctuated his interview this way: "I think they have a tremendous shot and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t pull it off."

Metz does not represent Manning. Tom Condon does. But longtime NFC West observers might recall Metz representing high-profile players in the division, including former Seattle Seahawks receiver Joey Galloway. Metz is putting Arizona and Miami atop the list of most likely destinations, giving the Cardinals an edge.

"He is going to win quicker in Arizona and they know how to do it, and that whole staff has been there before, so they know how to get right back there, and so does Peyton," Metz said.

Metz said he expects a resolution quickly, within a week. He says the Dolphins will want to have a resolution before Green Bay's Matt Flynn hits the market, and that the demand for Manning will be strong enough to accelerate the process. He discounted Seattle for geography and Kansas City for the fit.

Metz obviously has an interest in where Manning winds up. Whisenhunt and Grimm stand to benefit from Manning signing with Arizona.

"Only he is going to know for sure," Metz said, "but I would think it comes down to Miami and Arizona, and I think Arizona wins out."
What kind of scheme will fit Peyton Manning best?

One that’s a lot like what he ran while he was with Indianapolis.

We can do a lot of speculating about what’s most important to Manning going forward. My belief is a guy who is a creature of habit and loves routine and repetition will be most inclined to go somewhere where he gains a good measure of control. Where the coach and offensive coordinator will be willing to bend things to him. Where he can continue to do the things he's been honing for years.

That’s why I don’t see Washington as a good fit at all.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Jerry Lai/US PresswirePeyton Manning would likely do best in an offense that's similar to the one he ran in Indianapolis.
Mike Shanahan is a control freak and his son and offensive coordinator, Kyle, is a chip off the old block. Toss Manning into that mix and there isn’t enough control to go around.

Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona has shown a willingness to fit a scheme to a signal-caller. Joe Philbin in Miami is just starting out and would surely be willing to tilt things. Pete Carroll in Seattle seems to be a flexible guy when dealing with big personalities and stars. Romeo Crennel in Kansas City is a defensive guy.

John Fox is intense, but he and John Elway wouldn’t jump in unless they would mold things for Manning. And we certainly know they are willing to move away from the offense Tim Tebow was running.

“In the end, the chances are that whichever team Manning lands with will incorporate its present offensive system intertwined with what Manning did with the Colts,” writes Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc Insider. “Manning's offense in Indy included a zone run-blocking scheme that featured athletic, movement-based linemen, limited personnel groupings and formations, a ton of pre-snap reads, and a timing-based passing attack that thrived after hours and hours of practice time.”

I can’t give away the store of the Insider piece, so I won’t share the order Williamson lists the matches in. We’ll go alphabetical as we share some snippets. As a bonus, my blog network brethren have chimed in with a flexibility rating for the coach/staff/scheme. A "10" means the team would hand over the keys to Manning and a "1" means he’d be expected to run precisely what the coaching staff wanted.

Arizona

Williamson: “This is the offense I would expect to change the most for Manning. Ken Whisenhunt is a very good offensive mind, but his philosophies have changed dramatically in his tenure as head coach, depending on the quarterback he's had at his disposal.”

Flexibility index from Mike Sando: 7

Denver

Not on Williamson’s list.

Flexibility index from Bill Williamson: 10

Kansas City

Williamson: “Adding Manning should make the team the clear favorite to win the AFC West, if not more. But, without a quarterback of the future on the roster, if Kansas City swings and misses on this acquisition, it could cost it dearly. Cassel is mediocre, and probably always will be, which could make the Chiefs too complacent in terms of finding a replacement or successor. It's time for them to be aggressive.”

Flexibility index from Bill Williamson: 10

Miami

Williamson: "With Joe Philbin taking over in Miami, the team will be installing an offense very similar to the one in Green Bay, which would fit Manning with all the pre-snap reads it requires. Also, limiting some of the injury risk of signing Manning and putting all the eggs in that basket is that Miami has Matt Moore returning. Although Moore is far from elite, you could do much worse as backups go."

Flexibility index from James Walker: 7

New York Jets

Williamson: "I don't think Manning would put New York over the top because it has problems at right tackle, No. 2 wide receiver and possibly at running back on offense. On defense, the Jets have a hole at safety, at outside pass-rusher and with an inside linebacker who excels in coverage."

Flexibility index from Walker: 10

San Francisco

Williamson: “Manning wouldn't have to put the entire team on his shoulders in San Francisco. The wide receiver position certainly needs upgrading, but Manning could have a reduced role from his time in Indianapolis -- which might be best for him now -- and consistently get his team into strong play choices at the line of scrimmage.”

Flexibility index from Sando: 3.5

Seattle

Williamson: "With a power ground game, an improving offensive line and some young receiving weapons to work with, Manning might be able to accomplish quite a bit with this offense. If Seattle signs Manning, it definitely could make a run."

Flexibility index from Sando: 8

Washington

Williamson: I also have some concerns about how well Mike Shanahan would be able to -- and how willing he would be to -- alter his offense, which stresses a move-oriented quarterback, to fit Manning's cerebral skill set.

Flexibility index from Dan Graziano: 3
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Denver Broncos will be one of the teams that inquire about Peyton Manning, who is now free to sign with any club.

Denver’s interest makes sense. We wrote Tuesday that we thought the Broncos could be one of the teams to make a play for Manning. ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said Tuesday he believes Denver, along with Arizona, makes the most sense for Manning.

The fact that the Broncos are going to inquire about Manning doesn’t mean they’ll be big players, but it does show the team has some interest in Manning. Let’s look at some of the factors:

Tim Tebow: The Broncos have said Tebow will go to training camp as the starter. I don’t think their interest in Manning is an indication the Broncos are searching for a reason to get out of their commitment to Tebow. The opportunity to sign Manning is a unique one. I think Manning is one of the few quarterbacks Denver could bring in as its starter this season that wouldn’t cause fan backlash. Everyone would have to understand the reason why he is being brought in. However, if Denver’s pursuit of Manning doesn’t go anywhere, I think the Broncos will still give Tebow this season to prove himself.

Broncos VP John Elway: I knew Elway would be tempted to pursue Manning. Both are legendary quarterbacks. Elway owes it to himself to gauge Manning’s interest in being a Bronco.

Coach John Fox: Fox loves veteran quarterbacks, and he has a very outgoing personality. Players love working for him and he runs a player-friendly show. The defensive specialist would give Manning the keys to the offense.

Supporting cast: Manning could make a major difference on this team. He would benefit from the team's strong running game and the Broncos do have some young receivers and an improving defense. The Broncos would still have to add a receiver or two and a tight end in addition to their other needs. They have room under the salary cap to get better. I don’t think this roster would be a deterrent for Manning.
Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk is a former teammate and close friend of quarterback Peyton Manning. That is why you have to take Faulk's opinion seriously when he says Manning will not go to the NFC and the Miami Dolphins are potential favorites.

Manning
Faulk seemed adamant Wednesday that you can pretty much cross off 16 NFC teams, including the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins, who are both considered strong contenders to sign Manning.

"If you're in the NFC, you're out. The Mannings (won't) play a regular-season game," said Faulk, also referring to quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants. "They're not gonna stop each other from going to the Super Bowl. Meeting in the Super Bowl? How great would that be for the family?"

Faulk continued by saying "There's no way, there's no way, there's no way" when NFC teams were mentioned. Faulk didn't seem as sure where Manning will land but mentioned Miami as a possibility.

"Matt Flynn just doesn't do it," Faulk said. "(He's) not Aaron Rodgers, let's be honest."

If Faulk is accurate about his good friend, Peyton Manning, this is an interesting development. Teams like the Dolphins and New York Jets would basically have their competition cut in half, especially with strong suitors like Arizona, Seattle and Washington out of the mix. We will see if Faulk's prediction holds true.
I spoke with NFC West blogger Mike Sando this morning as he was putting together this post.

It’s a great idea and he included a few of my thoughts in good takes on myths vs. motivators for Manning. Still, I’m compelled to circle back to offer a bit more of my thinking on a few of them.

First, there's the idea that the division of a potential team will play a big factor into where Manning lands.

If Peyton Manning likes the opportunity in Miami, he’s not going to shy away from it because of the Patriots and Tom Brady. Al Davis once said he didn’t get heart attacks, he gives them. That applies here: Manning doesn’t fear competition, he intends to instill fear into his competition.

Other things on Sando’s list that I think are overrated:

Offensive line: Yes, a good one would be desirable to work behind. But he’s played behind some bad ones in Indianapolis and he knows how to work around them. He can get rid of the ball more quickly than any quarterback in the league, whether it’s the play as designed to the primary receiver, a quick dump-off to avoid trouble or a throwaway. Given a choice between great route runners or great blockers, I think he'd lean toward the first.

Reggie Wayne: I’m sure Manning and Wayne would both love to work together more. But as I’ve written, it’s pretty insulting to Wayne to suggest he’ll be an add-on item to Manning’s next team. He’s a prime free agent with a few good years left who can do just fine without Manning.

Preference for a smaller market: Look, in a superstar’s world, market size is way overrated. Manning wasn’t walking around Indy undisturbed. When you learn how to be low key in one place, you can apply the same methods to a different place. Manning’s weekly news conference in Indianapolis was packed. He was engaging and measured in much bigger situations, including two Super Bowl weeks. Yes, those weekly sessions will be more packed if he’s with the Jets. Do we seriously think he’ll be turned off by that to the degree where it’s a factor in deciding where he works?

So what’s the future hold now that Peyton Manning and owner Jim Irsay have spoken about the Colts releasing the quarterback?

While I feel sure Manning knows the process, he said his thinking has been about where he’s been, not where he’s heading.

A creature of habit and a lover of regimen, he said he’s in “uncharted territory” now. He knows what a typical NFL March is, but he has no idea what this March will be like.

Manning said after being unable to throw or work with teammates for a long time, “It feels like home being back out there."

While he emphasized Indianapolis will remain home, he’s now on the market for a new football home.

As for his ability to play on, he said: “I am confident.”

"I'm throwing it pretty well. I've got some work to do. I've got some progress to make. But I've worked real hard."

He said he has no interest in retiring. No one, he said, loves his job or loves playing quarterback more than he does.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning and Jim Irsay
AP Photo/Michael ConroyColts owner Jim Irsay, right, said he'd like to see Peyton Manning enjoy success elsewhere while the Colts rebuild.
As he referred to notes to make his initial statement, I thought he was as emotional as we’ve ever seen him. He’s a guy built on composure and poise, but he showed us the human side -- one opposite from the jokester in TV commercials -- in this goodbye.

He goes out at peace with the way things have played out, and at peace with Irsay and the organization.

That peace is an important piece to this, as he starts to envision life somewhere else after 14 years with the Colts. Irsay said he’s rooting for Manning to have a chance to go out a winner and that the move is in his best interest.

“As a franchise, where we are right now with the salary cap, where we are rebuilding, we’re definitely a few years away,” Irsay said. “I want to see him come back and play great, there is no question about it. Just like in 2001 when he was completely healthy and everything else and we didn’t have everything to surround him. I want that opportunity for him as well to succeed at the end of his career.”

Just to sign a draft class the Colts will need to make roster moves, Irsay said.

Manning certainly has to wind up in a better situation than that.

An emotional Peyton Manning, pledging that no one loves playing quarterback more than he does, said goodbye to the Colts in a 20-minute news conference this afternoon.

It sounded like he was anticipating an afternoon of goodbyes with support staff at team headquarters with whom he’s had long-term relationships. When he spoke of one faction of those people, the equipment guys, his voice cracked.

“It’s weighed real heavy on my heart but, yeah, I am at peace with it,” he said of parting with the team that drafted him first overall in 1998. He and owner Jim Irsay both said that it wasn’t a decision either of them wanted to make, but one the circumstances dictated.

He was most emphatic about his thanks to fans of the Colts.

“This town and this team mean so much to me,” Manning said. “It truly has been an honor to play in Indianapolis. I do love it here. I love the fans and I’ll always enjoy having played for such a great team. I leave the Colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude to Jim, the organization, my teammates, the media and especially the fans.

“I haven’t thought yet about where I’ll play. But I have thought a lot about where I’ve been. And I’ve truly been blessed.”

Turning to fans specifically, he said: “Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

ManningWatch: Myths vs. motivators

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
12:15
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For years we've made assumptions and educated guesses about what matters most to Peyton Manning.

We might think Manning likes playing in domes, that he prefers a small market or must have full control of the offensive playbook.

But now, with the longtime Indianapolis Colts quarterback headed toward free agency for the first time, we're about to find out how those assumptions fare in the market.

A quick look at some of them:
  • Wants to play indoors. The fact that Manning has called an indoor stadium home for his entire career could lead us to think he'll want to continue playing in one. And he might. Quarterbacks benefit from controlled conditions. But Manning won a Super Bowl in a rainstorm. Do we really know where stadium type ranks on his list of priorities?
  • Seeks an easy division. This one drew a swift reaction from AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky when we spoke Wednesday morning. To think that Manning would avoid, say, the AFC East for fear of New England? Manning, afraid? Those other teams should fear him, right? And for those casting the NFC West as a soft landing spot, it's time to reconsider. Did anyone see the San Francisco 49ers' defense last season? Seattle and Arizona also put the hurt on opposing offenses at times. And the worst team in the NFC West just hired a coordinator under fire for issuing bounties on quarterbacks.
  • Reggie Wayne as a package deal: This one has been making the rounds quite a bit. As the theory goes, an NFL team could entice Manning by guaranteeing to land his longtime favorite target. But we might be overlooking one small detail, that Wayne will have something to say about where he plays next. We shouldn't just assume Manning and Wayne as a package deal. Kuharsky isn't buying this one, either. For all we know, Manning might really want to play with, say, Pierre Garcon.
  • Manning prefers a small market: Manning played in one for years and flourished there, and we all know he loves to focus on football without distractions. But perhaps no player in NFL history has sought the spotlight as a pitchman as effectively as Manning in recent years. Manning has also embraced opportunities to appear on Saturday Night Live. The evidence suggests he could handle a big market easily and might even prefer one, for all we know.
  • Offensive line important: Every quarterback would benefit from a strong line, but Manning made his offensive line look good, not the other way around. His ability to distribute the ball quickly allowed the Colts to dominate in the passing game without great offensive linemen.
  • Fit matters more than money: This is a fair assumption, but money issues hastened Manning's departure from the Colts. We can assume Manning's next team will pay him handsomely. Manning didn't do all those commercials for free, either. Any NFL team will have to pay Manning. As a side note, every team has enough financial wherewithal to pay him, regardless of an owner's net worth.
  • Control of the offense is key: I'm buying this one as a true motivator, not just a myth. It's tougher to envision Manning adapting his game for a system-oriented offensive coach such as Washington's Mike Shanahan. Manning did control the offense in Indianapolis. Going to a team with a flexible offensive staff would seem to make the most sense.
  • Will not want to face his brother: We have no way of knowing whether Manning would want to avoid the NFC East simply because his brother, Eli, plays for the New York Giants. Tony Dungy has promoted this line of thinking, lending credence to it.

That makes eight potential myths or genuine motivators. I'm guessing you've got one or two more. Manning is about to speak at the Colts' news conference. Perhaps he'll shed some light on what matters most to him.
Since Peyton Manning's departure from the Colts is the news of the day in the NFL, it's worth looking back to mid-January, and an interview that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning gave with ESPN 1050 radio in New York. Toward the end of the interview, host Michael Kay asked Eli what he'd think about the New York Jets signing Peyton -- an arrangement that would result in the Manning brothers playing pro football in the same city. The audio is here, but Eli's first reaction is a laugh and some jokes:
"It would be fun. We could probably commute to work, maybe, come home, eat dinner together, have the kids be playing with each other. Have twin beds, we could share notes on opponents and watch some film together. I don't know what's going to happen with that situation. Would it be fun? Yeah. I think it'd be interesting to have your brother in the same city playing football together. I don't think we would see each other that often just because of our schedules being a whole lot different, probably just talk on the phone a whole lot more than see each other during the season. But it would be interesting. I'm not saying it's going to happen or I want it to happen, but to have your brother that close to you and playing in New York would be very unique."

People like to speculate about what's in the minds and the hearts of these players they don't know personally. People say things like, "Peyton would never go to Washington and play against his brother twice a year," or "Peyton would never go to New York for fear of outshining Eli." Blah, blah, blah. First of all, we don't know what these guys really think and feel about each other. They appear to have a very close and loving relationship. And second of all, any worries big brother Peyton may have had seven or eight years ago about casting a shadow over his brother would have to be gone by now, wouldn't you think? I mean, now that Eli has more Super Bowl rings?

Like Eli, I have no idea if Peyton Manning will end up with the Jets or the Redskins or in any other situation that might put the two brothers in more direct competition with each other. But I feel pretty confident saying that, if it did happen, it wouldn't bother Eli one bit. After all, nothing else seems to.

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