In Peyton’s Place … Friday Cup O’Combine

From Indianapolis, Indiana

The NFL is back in Indy in the “House that Peyton Built” as the NFL Scouting Combine kicked off on Thursday with offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists getting first chance to spend time with the 32 teams.

But hovering over the whole scene is Peyton Williams Manning. His face is everywhere at Lucas Oil Stadium. That’s him above in the background as new Colts head coach Chuck Pagano spoke to the media Thursday afternoon. Giant Peyton pictures drape the outside of the building.

And the talk on Combine Day #1 was a little bit of Andrew Luck, a tad of Robert Griffin III and a whole lot of Manning and his future in the league. Evidence of the quarterback and his continuing rebuild from neck surgeries was everywhere.

Out in the East Lobby of the stadium, deposed Colts GM Bill Polian was working in his newest gig, with SiriusXM NFL Radio. Speaking to the media horde was Pagano and new Indy GM Ryan Grigson. Other than a query about Dwight Freeney, a request to update the status of some injured players and an exchange about the Colts switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme this year, all the questions for Pagano and Grigson were about Manning.

The only actors in this football drama that were not present were the leads: Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay. Manning apparently was still in Durham, North Carolina, where he’s been working out at Duke University. Grigson said Irsay was out of town and unavailable, but would be back next week.

Also involved in the soap opera is Manning’s agent Tom Condon. The former Chiefs guard was in town for the Combine like the rest of the NFL agent-world. “Nothing to report,” Condon said Thursday night. “It’s been pretty quiet today.”

Not so at the Combine, where everybody got questions about Manning. The problem was nobody wanted to answer them. Grigson and his coach kept talking about “the ongoing process” the Colts and their iconic quarterback were going through as the calendar hurries to towards a March 8 deadline involving payment of a $28 million bonus the team will owe Manning on that day.

“There are a lot of variables involved in the decision; it’s an ongoing process,” Grigson said. “Everyone would like to have this nailed down, but there are a lot of variables and factors involved.

“We have a date to work with. We continue to talk. It will get worked out.”

Said Pagano: “We just keep evaluating the situation. I know he’s doing everything within his power to get 100 percent healthy. Time will let the thing work itself out.”

Numerous other NFL GMs and coaches were asked about Manning and his situation as well. Some almost ran away from the questions, like Miami GM Jeff Ireland. When a reporter asked about the Manning situation, Ireland started backpedaling until he was out of the media room and his “I can’t talk about that” faded off into the Combine din.

Ireland, Seattle GM John Schneider, San Francisco GM Trent Baalke, New York Jets GM Mike Tannebaum, Arizona GM Rod Graves . . . all of them might have an interest in Manning’s future, but all stayed away from the discussion.

Everybody but Jets head coach Rex Ryan who stepped right up to the line, before backing away.

“We will look at any possibility out there at quarterback,” said Ryan, who also expressed his support of Mark Sanchez. “We will do what’s in the best interest of our organization. That means we’ll look at all the possibilities.”

The only man in the building on Thursday that has seen Manning throw the ball in the last two months was Polian. He watched a throwing session before he was bounced out of the building by Irsay.

“He threw the ball quite well,” Polian said. “He didn’t throw any deep balls, just intermediate-type routes but he was accurate and had good velocity. What I understand, he continues to improve.

“I want the best for him. If he’s able to play, I want him to play.”

Miami, the N.Y. Jets, Arizona, Seattle, Washington – those are all teams that would seem to have an interest in Manning if he becomes a free agent in less than two weeks. Thursday, the Chiefs were thrown into the pile as well; although how serious a player they are remains to be seen.

While the franchise needs a shot in the arm to change public perception of how the team is operated, going after Manning and jumping through all the hoops that would be part of that effort is very unlikely the profile the team has established under Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli.

But then, maybe they’ve come to realize what type of desperate situation they are in and Manning seems like the answer.

Pioli did not speak publicly on Thursday, but he’s schedule to address the media horde on Friday afternoon. There’s a very good chance he will bob and weave around any Manning questions, just like his peers.

It’s all part of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, the one where Peyton Manning is the No. 1 topic.

5 Responses to “In Peyton’s Place … Friday Cup O’Combine”

  • February 24, 2012  - Tracy says:

    The entire Peyton Manning saga, from his first days in the NFL, has been a bit surreal. He has attained a status that was always just out of the grasp of his father when his father played. At the same time, the Irsay family, given their dead-of-the-night departure from Baltimore so long ago, seemed pretty much undeserving of such an iconic player.

    So while Peyton set the bar, the fans in Indianapolis helped pony up a large chunk of the $800M or so that it took to build Lucas Oil Stadium. And since its inception, there have been worries about the stadium’s financial picture in the post-Peyton era. To their good fortune, Andrew Luck looms on the horizon as a franchise savior.

    Could there be a less deserving owner than Twitter obsessed douchebag the rest of the NFL has now come to know?

  • February 24, 2012  - Chuck says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Peyton just retires after all this fiasco about him. As far as the Chiefs going after him, all I can say is I HOPE NOT. We don’t need another bandaid for a year or two. If Pioli really wanted to get a GAMECHANGER he would figure out a way to get RG3.

  • February 24, 2012  - David says:

    I know he got hurt and isn’t feeling well, but Peyton looks REALLY bad in this photo….

  • February 24, 2012  - Blake says:

    Manning is a bandaid? He is a guy that if signed and plays close to his old form could get us to the Super Bowl if everything worked right and the players stayed healthy! RG3 is not going to do that. KC is not going to give up a minimum of 3 early picks for a guy like that, I wish Chiefs fans would stop saying it, it is not going to happen. Manning could play for 3 years gets us back to the playoffs and more importantly win us a freaking playoff game! Something that hasn’t happened in about 20 years! Manning could do crazy things for a guy like Stanzi. Stanzi has all the tools to succeed! He actually has a good arm, accuracy, and arm strength. He already throws a better ball than Cassel does. The knock on Stanzi was that he needed a few years, if he could learn behind Manning. We could have our franchise QB already on the roster!

    All this is nice to think about but it really doesn’t matter if Manning doesn’t want to come to KC though…

  • February 24, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Sometimes a bandaid is a very useful tool in the healing process. When Montana was acquired no one expected a long term relationship. No one really cared. As you rack up win after win who was worring about next year? I think I’d be fine with Manning signing on and not lose sleep thinking about the future.

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