Jim Irsay on Peyton: 'We've talked a lot'
Jim Irsay says his relationship with Peyton Manning doesn't boil down to the mundane, give-me-an-update-on-how-you-feel communication that could play a role in determining whether the veteran stays with the Indianapolis Colts.
Instead, as Irsay has remained in vigilant contact with Manning, the matters at hand -- beyond the quarterback's pending status -- would draw the ear of nearly every sports fan.
"We've talked a lot this month, probably more than most Februarys, and it's probably not what most people think we talk about," the Colts' owner said, speaking to reporters Thursday at a business event held in his honor, according to WRTV.com, the website of the Indianapolis ABC affiliate. "Very recently, we got into a debate about will Tiger Woods win more majors than Jack Nicklaus or not."
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Two days after saying he is leaving the door open for Manning to stay and that he planned to meet with him within the next week, Irsay said it wasn't an easy decision.
But Irsay didn't discuss an SI.com report that Manning's array of neck procedures included a fourth, previously unreported surgery.
"Peyton and I have talked and said that certainly by that date or sooner, we'd like to just come to something that makes sense for both of us," Irsay said before being inducted into the Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame. "It's a difficult thing, because sometimes circumstances are thrown at you. You take your hands out of the deck that you're dealt and you deal with them."
Irsay remained coy on the controversy surrounding a March 8 deadline, by which time the Colts must decide whether to pay Manning a $28 million roster bonus or lose him to free agency.
"We both know everyone has great interest in it, and we'll just keep talking," Irsay said. "I think we both understand each other's issues."
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ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen says Peyton Manning is encouraged by the progress that he's making with his arm strength. Mortensen also covers Jim Irsay and Manning's future in Indianapolis.
Irsay, calling his friendship with Manning a "lifelong relationship," joked about the back-and-forth comments he and Manning have shared recently with the media.
"If I call him a politician, he asks for one stroke back on the golf course," Irsay said. "And I said, no, he's giving me one more because I thought he was acting like a jerk before.
"We have that type of relationship. We're both very competitive, but I have a lot of close friends and they've said a lot worse things to me, and I've said a lot worse things to them than him, and I have."
Irsay has said that if Manning wants to stay, they could find a way to make it work financially.
"Him and I will always continue to be great friends, and I hope it's with him still being in a Colts uniform," Irsay said. "But we'll see as we go forward the next few weeks."
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