Changes sadden Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning, still trying to get healthy after missing the 2011 season because of neck surgery, described the Indianapolis Colts' facilities as "not a real good environment" at the moment and said he has "no idea" if he'll be with the team next season.
In an exclusive interview with The Indianapolis Star, Manning said owner Jim Irsay will make the final call on whether the team picks up his $28 million bonus in early March or decides to cut him loose.
He also said the firing of Jim Caldwell and resulting upheaval of the staff have affected him as he attempts to return to the field next season.
"I'm not in a very good place for healing, let's say that," he told the newspaper. "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."
Manning said he met with new general manager Ryan Grigson last week and was told that Irsay would determine whether the quarterback will remain a Colt.
Manning said a meeting with Irsay "is going to happen at some point, but we haven't had that conversation yet because we really don't need to have that conversation yet."
He reiterated to The Star that he wants to remain with the Colts but realizes it's not his call solely to make. He also made it clear that he isn't contemplating retirement right now.
"I don't want to get into some kind of fan campaign with the owner, but I think it's well documented that I want to play in the same place my whole career," Manning told the newspaper. "It's been a privilege to play here. I love the fans, the city, the transformation of the fans, how our place has become the toughest stadium to play in, the fact our fans wear more jerseys to games than anybody else. It's been fun to be a part of that.
"But I understand how it works. I understand tough decisions have to be made. There's personal and there's business and that's where we've got to separate the two. I've seen other guys leave places and it was personal. I've invested too much into this city for that to happen. We live here, we've given lots of time and money to the community and our church, and that's never going to change. Nothing changes that.
"Whatever happens, happens. I can't give you a prediction because Jim and I will sit down at some point and he'll get a feel for where I am and I'll get a sense of what direction he wants to go. Right now, I have no idea."
Irsay has repeatedly said that Manning's health, not money, will dictate the Colts' decision, and he didn't appear to back away from that with his latest Twitter post.
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"Knowing medical situation last yr. n still paying $26,000,000.00 to #18,I've no regrets.It was right thing2do," Irsay tweeted, explaining he was not upset about it.
Manning, who says he's at the team's training facility daily for his rehab process, has had a front-row seat for the team's turnover.
"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," he told the newspaper.
"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?"
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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