Peyton Manning has started every game since the Colts drafted him in 1998, a streak of 208 consecutive games that is topped only by Brett Favre in NFL history.
That streak makes Manning proud, but he insists that keeping the streak alive will have no bearing on whether or not he starts the Colts’ Week 1 game.
“Absolutely not, no,” Manning said today. “I have to be able to competitively play. I have too much respect for football. I mean could I go out there and take the opening snap or take a series? Yes, I could do that, absolutely. But I’ve got to be able to compete and to help my team win, and that’s what’s fair to the team, fair to myself.”
So will Manning be ready to competitively play on September 11? Right now he says he doesn’t know, and he’s asking reporters to just accept the fact that it’s going to take time to figure it out.
“I know everybody’s into predictions and everybody wants to have the breaking news, but I just can’t give you any more than what I’m giving you,” Manning said. “Just do me a favor, please don’t ask the linemen and receivers how I’m doing, because it annoys them and they get mad at me. You all just took 15 minutes of [Jeff] Saturday’s workout time answering questions about me, and now he’s mad at me. So you all could do me a favor there and just ask me, and then maybe ask [Jim] Caldwell. Hopefully leave everyone else alone, if that’s possible. Just a request, I know you don’t have to do it.”
Manning can bet that reporters will be asking him and his teammates about the status of his recovery from neck surgery until the season starts. And maybe a lot longer.