As PFT reported on Sunday, Peyton Manning currently intends to play in 2016. As PFT reported on Monday, Manning has told teammates he currently intends to play in 2016.
And the mere release of that information has caused the Broncos to lose their collective minds.
The official response from the team came during coach Gary Kubiak’s Monday press conference, wherein he painted a picture that Manning’s obsessive desire to get healthy enough to play again in 2015 and his current intent to play in 2016 are somehow mutually exclusive. They aren’t.
The unofficial sense is that the report has put the franchise in an irrational tizzy. This reaction apparently flows from the assumption that the information was deliberately leaked as part of the broader, awkward, and largely unspoken dance between Manning and the franchise, which included in the offseason an initial effort to cut his pay by $10 million for 2015, a specific request by Manning that the restructured deal include a no-trade clause (and he didn’t make that request for no reason), the team making a point of the fact that the no-trade clause applies only to 2015, and the team now potentially planning to persuade Manning he’s not healthy enough to play until Brock Osweiler starts playing as poorly as Peyton was playing before he was benched.
But not everything that gets reported is the result of a conscious effort to leak information. Without saying whether in this case the leak was or wasn’t intentional (it would be ludicrous for me to comment directly or indirectly on how the two reports came to be), the point is that it quite possibly wasn’t something Manning wanted anyone to know.
Based on a report from Mike Klis of 9news.com in Denver, it would be fair for a neutral observer to conclude that Manning didn’t leak the information, because he reportedly isn’t happy that the information has come to light.
“Talked to source close to Peyton Manning,” Klis said on Twitter. “Manning incensed by report he’s making plans for 2016 with or without Broncos.”
First, the report isn’t that Manning is “making plans for 2016 with or without Broncos.” It’s that Manning currently intends to play next year, even if that means not playing for the Broncos. Having a mindset and actually putting that mindset in motion are two very different things. For now, Manning is focused on getting healthy enough to play in 2015. Again, it’s not mutually exclusive that he currently plans to play in 2016.
Second, neither Klis nor his source said that the report of Manning’s current intentions isn’t true. Instead, Klis merely reports that Manning is miffed that the report emerged. Which makes sense, given the team’s apparent suspicion that he leaked the information as part of the (for now) passive-aggressive push-and-pull between franchise quarterback and franchise that may be getting to the point where it no longer wants him.
Third, to the extent that anyone would scoff at the report regarding Manning’s current intentions because the source wasn’t named, why isn’t Manning or someone close to him going on the record to say that he definitely won’t play in 2016?
“I’m definitely not playing in 2016, in Denver or anywhere.” That’s all he needs to say.
And neither he nor anyone close to him have said that, on or off the record, in the two days since the report of his current intentions emerged.
At some point, Manning could offer up a glib comment, suggesting that if I have the ability to read his mind he’d like me to tell him what he wants for Christmas, or whether he actually thinks chicken parm tastes good. Regardless, anything other than “I’m definitely not playing in 2016, in Denver or anywhere” will keep the door open for what he has told teammates he currently intends to do next year: Play football for another season, with the Broncos or someone else.