Colts quarterback Peyton Manning already has missed eight games after a pair of neck surgeries. It’s still unknown whether he’ll miss eight more. Or even more than that.
Manning made on Tuesday an unexpected appearance in the team’s locker room. And he said he’s got more healing to do before he can practice or play.
“We’re still waiting for the fusion to take place, it’s still going slow and we still have some issues with the regeneration of the nerve,” Manning said, according to the Associated Press. “I still have some restrictions.”
Characterized as “more serious” in his demeanor than Manning was during his last visit with reporters, Manning opted not to talk about his future or the possibility that the Colts will draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. “Those are all fair questions, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now,” Manning said. “I’m thinking about how can I get a little better? [The contract] is really a one-year deal with a four-year extension and that was my recommendation because I wasn’t healthy when I signed the contract.”
He’s right, but the Colts need to decide by early March whether to kick in the four-year extension by picking up a $28 million option bonus. On Manning’s current timeline, the Colts may not be able to make the decision without watching Manning throw, because he may not be able to throw before the 2011 season ends.
Of course, Manning could choose to throw for the team privately, before the 2012 offseason program begins. Or he could choose not to, which would force the team to make a big decision with incomplete information.
Likewise, he could choose to delay until April, May, or beyond the trigger for the $28 million payment. Or he could choose not to, forcing the team to decide whether to cut him, trade him, or pay him.
There will be many unanswered questions as it relates to Manning’s playing career, and based on his comments from Thursday the chance he’ll never play again can’t be completely disregarded. There’s no pill or exercise for regenerating nerves. If it doesn’t happen for Manning, he won’t be able to throw the ball like used to be able to throw the ball.
Here’s hoping that the healing happens. All-time great quarterbacks should be able to leave the game on their own terms.