Before Zapruder-style images of Peyton Manning throwing passes at Duke appeared on YouTube, the Colts had come up with a foolproof plan for not paying Manning $28 million. By hiding behind language in the CBA that doesn’t specifically say they can’t watch him throw a football — and by choosing to avoid what at best would be a no-harm, ticky-tack violation of the labor deal over making a more informed decision regarding the fate of $28 million — the Colts had the ultimate P.R. tool for supporting the coming decision to cut Manning.
“How can we pay him the money if we can’t watch him throw?”
Now that there’s somewhat conclusive video of Peyton Manning looking like, well, Peyton Manning (complete with white helmet), the Colts can’t say they didn’t know he could throw. (Unless the Colts try to claim that no one in the organization watched the video, in deference to language in the CBA that in reality doesn’t say they can’t.)
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star takes another great look at a drama that has been supplanted over the past two days by shenanigans from the team that plays in Peyton’s hometown of New Orleans. And Kravitz points out that owner Jim Irsay said this during the 2011 season: “I think the situation is if he’s back and he’s healthy, I see him coming back and playing here. I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again.”
“Health” is a vague term. Even if the Colts acknowledge that they watched the video, Irsay can say it doesn’t mean Peyton has regained 100 percent of his arm strength.
But in this battle for the hearts and minds of Colts fans, all Manning needed to do was look like the Manning of old. If you squint your eyes just right while watching the video, he does.
Though it wasn’t as compelling as “if it doesn’t fit you must acquit,” Manning’s closing argument will make if very difficult for the court of public opinion to issue a verdict of “not ready.”