We have some Peyton Manning news that is actually news.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Peyton Manning has been cleared to resume his NFL career.
Colts owner Jim Irsay said in December that he expected Manning would be a Colt if healthy. The presumption of late is that Manning would not be healthy by March. Numerous sources doubted Manning’s ability to ever play again.
The Colts and NFL teams could believe that “cleared” doesn’t mean healthy, but it’s obvious that Manning’s camp wants the news out there that he’s ready to play again. This is the next volley in the back-and-forth between Manning and the Colts.
Mortensen says two doctors cleared Manning to play, including the doctor that performed his surgery.
“If you were my own son, I’d tell [you] to go play,” one doctor told Manning.
That doesn’t mean Manning is ready to play just yet. The key line in Mortesen’s report is as follows:
“The sources said Watkins examined Manning recently in Los Angeles and concluded the stability in his neck would have allowed the quarterback to play this Sunday if the nerves in his arm had regenerated to a satisfactory performance level,” Mort writes.
So the nerves in Manning’s arm likely haven’t necessarily regenerated to a satisfactory performance level yet. Essentially, it’s sounds like it’s safe for Manning to play again, but he’s not able to be effective yet.
“It’s not a safety issue; it’s a performance issue,” one source said.
So Manning is not “back.” This may not even qualify is particularly new information. He doesn’t know yet when or if his arm will perform at an acceptable level. One source told Mort it could take until May. Left unsaid is that it might not happen at all.
That doesn’t make this news insignificant. It’s looking more likely that Manning will wear an NFL uniform again if his health is no longer at risk. Perhaps he’d be willing to play with his arm at 80% of what it used to be.
Life just got harder for the Colts. If they truly want to move on from the Manning era, it will be a tougher sell to their fans to cut Manning now.