Peyton Manning to leave Colts – Who’s decision was it?

peyton manningIt’s over. The announcement just hit the wires, we have seen Peyton Manning in the blue and white Indianapolis Colts colors for the last time. Sources say the Colts have released Peyton with a full announcement to come in the next couple of days.

This announcement is hot on the heels of a video that surfaced showing Peyton throwing at Duke University and looking like the Peyton of old. The early commentators are leaning toward this being a decision the Colts made. While yes, they could have paid Peyton’s $28 million bonus and forced him to stay, I’m wondering if the decision wasn’t just about the money.

When Peyton joined the Colts in 1998 they were a team in disarray. The Colts had the number one draft pick for a reason and they continued to struggle under Coach Jim Mora Sr. of “Playoffs?! Don’t talk to me about playoffs!!” fame. In spite of having one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game at the helm, Mora was fired in 2001.

Now, 14 years after that fateful 1998 season the Colts are in much the same situation. Jim Irsay has cleaned house, hired an inexperienced GM, a rookie head coach, plans on drafting the number one quarterback, Andrew Luck, and may not re-sign some of his skill players (Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, etc..) This may be a great long term strategy for the Colts organization, but short term Peyton would probably be a very highly paid QB coach for Luck, which isn’t what Peyton wants to do. Peyton wants to play the game. Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t so much the Colts releasing Peyton as it is Peyton taking one more shot at a championship. Maybe Peyton thinks he can bring Reggie with him and sign with a more mature team with a more mature coach. Maybe the Jets, or with John Harbaugh out in San Francisco. Maybe he goes to Washington and gets a spot on Shanahan’s roster, or maybe down to Houston and works with Kubiak.

I will be surprised if we see Peyton in Miami or Denver or Jacksonville or Kansas City. Those teams could all use his talent (Sorry Tebow), but they either don’t have the personnel or don’t have the coaching to make a serious run at the Lombardi Trophy next year. No matter where he goes, I know that I will be purchasing a new team’s logo next year and get crap from my friends for being a fair weather fan. Thanks a lot Peyton.