As it turns out, neither guy will have the last word. Instead, they both will.
The Colts have issued a joint statement from quarterback Peyton Manning and owner Jim Irsay, to cap a flurry of sound bites that have suggested a rapidly deteriorating relationship between the two men.
“We would like to dispel any misperception that there might be any hard feelings between us,” the statement reads, ignoring the fact that the perception arose from their own words — and their compulsion to respond to each other’s words. “Since 1998, we have enjoyed a great relationship, based upon mutual respect and trust. We have always been able to talk and address matters we’ve faced over the years, not just as owner and player, but as friends. We had a long talk today and we want to assure Colts fans everywhere that we are both committed to maintaining our close relationship and to working together through any challenges the future may bring.”
The future brings one significant challenge: What to do on March 8, when the Colts owe Manning a $28 million payment that could be avoided only if Manning is cut before then? Embedded in the question of whether the Colts will give the money to Manning is the question of whether Manning will delay the due date in order to give the Colts a better chance to assess his health.
So while today’s statement represents a bucket of water on the burgeoning brush fire, the embers will still smolder. The goal will be to keep the flames from returning before the unblinking red eye of the national media leaves Indy the morning after the Super Bowl.