The story of Eli Manning’s NFL prowess is well-known, well-documented, and obviously legendary. He was recently fitted for his second Super Bowl ring and cleared space on his mantle for his second Super Bowl MVP trophy. Even with all of his success, I’d argue that his football career is still on the ascent. However, I’m throwing you a little curve ball here. This is not about Eli, but instead Eli’s lesser-known brother, Peyton.
Eli’s brother is also a professional football player, a quarterback even. He’s actually pretty damn good, too. He won a Super Bowl, not two like his brother, but he has a ring. Until last Wednesday, March 7, he played for the Colts of Indianapolis. He was cut by owner Jim Irsay in a much maligned move driven by a very unique scenario. Eli’s bro was arguably the organization’s all-time greatest player, and now he’s gone. He’s leaving Indy with some tread left on his tires, too. So what’s behind this abrupt, seemingly heartless, move by the Colts? Well, his 14 year tenure in Indy was cut short for a variety of reasons:
Peyton sat out the entire 2011 NFL season after undergoing neck surgery to repair some kind of nerve issue in there. He got a couple of his vertebrae fused together or some shit like that. Here’s the deal, though. Experts are not really worried about any future neck problems for Peyton, but rather if his arm strength will get back to what it was in his prime. Nerve damage in a neck can be a serious problem with regards to strength in the arm, or at least that’s what Google just taught me. Even after all he has done for the Colts, it’s a tough decision for an owner to sign off on, putting the future of your team on an arm that you’re just not sure of.
If this scenario were to occur a couple years ago or even next season, Peyton may still be a Colt. Insert Neckbeard Pledge. Having the rights to the 2012 #1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, the Colts have the privilege of drafting Andrew Luck, who some experts are calling the top quarterback prospect since John Elway. It would certainly behoove Irsay to take advantage of such a golden opportunity, and he is. Luck has the size, the arm, the pedigree, and the smarts to excel in the NFL. He’s a lot like Eli, actually.
The NFL is a vastly appealing entity that showcases some of the world’s most elite athletes. But just like any industry, it’s driven by money. Peyton was due a bonus of $28,000,000 if he was still a Colt on Thursday; they cut his ass on Wednesday. We’re not talking some $1,000 performance bonus at your miserable 9 to 5. “Hey, Peyton. Come into my office for a sec. You know that 28 mil we’re supposed to give you tomorrow? Yeah, we’re gonna go ahead and hang on to that.” Irsay saved his organization 28 mil by cutting ties with Peyton. Aside from that, he’s rejuvenating his franchise. The arrival of young Andrew Luck will start a buzz in Indianapolis, and that will drive up ticket and merchandise sales. This decision goes beyond football. It’s big business.
At the end of the day, Peyton will land on his feet. He’s a no doubt Hall-of-Famer with good years ahead of him. He gets to choose his next team and will select one that will give him a great opportunity to get back to a Super Bowl. Right now it’s looking like his decision has been narrowed down to Arizona and Denver. Personally, I hope he goes to Denver and takes a huge shit on Tebowmania. But before it’s time to make the call and sign on the dotted line, Peyton will definitely look to brother Eli for advice, and I think that’s wise. Dude’s got two rings already.