INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning still intends to play football.
He’s also no fan of the Colts’ big off-season overhaul that included the firing of coach Jim Caldwell and other executives.
In an interview that appeared Tuesday in The Indianapolis Star, Manning touched on everything from his future plans to the difficulty he’s had coping with all the changes. He has not responded to interview requests made by The Associated Press.
“It’s 20 degrees (Fahrenheit), it’s snowing, the building is absolutely empty except when you see coaches cleaning out their offices,” Manning 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.
“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,” Manning added. “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?”
One thing Manning does know is that last week’s discussion about his “impending” departure from football was premature.
He poked fun at the frenzy surrounding a Twitter post from actor Rob Lowe, who wrote Manning was expected to announce his retirement last week. Manning said the whole thing caught him off-guard.
“I never thought ‘Sodapop Curtis’ would announce my retirement,” he said, referring to Lowe’s character in the 1983 movie “The Outsiders.” ”I always thought I would be the one to announce it.”
The biggest questions, of course, are about Manning’s health and his future in Indianapolis.
While Manning would not say where he is in his recovery or how close he is to being 100 per cent 4 1/2 months after having his latest neck surgery, he said new general manger Ryan Grigson inferred the decision about paying Manning a US$28 million bonus in March or letting him become a free agent would be made by team owner Jim Irsay.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Manning said. “I can’t give you a prediction because Jim (Irsay) 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 he 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.
“Knowing medical situation last yr. n still paying $26,000,000.00 to (hash)18,I’ve no regrets.It was right thing2do,” Irsay tweeted, explaining he was not upset about it.
Manning, who again expressed his desire to finish his NFL career in the same place it began, said he has not met with Irsay to find out the Colts’ thoughts.
“That’s 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,” Manning said.