At the end of the day, the decision was by the Indianapolis Colts to cut Peyton Manning was primarily a financial one, with the franchise not willing to pay the superstar quarterback the 28 million dollars they would have owed him had they kept him past tomorrow, March 8, 2012. That and the fact that they would have taken a huge salary cap hit made this a fairly easy call by the Colts' brass.
Reading between the lines, the whole situation could have been handled better by owner Jim Irsay and Indianapolis management.
It had been widely rumored for quite some time that Irsay was not going to honor the contract of Manning, 35, the franchise's all-time leading passer and MVP of Super Bowl XLI. Manning had missed the entire 2011 season following a series of neck surgeries, and, despite reports that the future Hall of Famer had been making significant recovery during the 2012 offseason, it was assumed that Indianapolis would select Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the first pick in next month's draft.
No one, even the diehard fans in Indianapolis, should blame Irsay for doing what he believes is in the best long term interest of the organization. After all, their is no certainty that Manning will even be able to play at 75% of what he once was. Building around a young, talented quarterback like Luck not only makes financial sense, but it is also a smart football decision.
Yet the way Irsay decided to let go of one of the biggest sports icons in Indianapolis history has left a sour taste in the mouths of even fans of the New England Patriots. Instead of trying to turn public opinion against his QB, he should have followed his own advice and "kept it in the family." Sure, Peyton fired the first shot during Super Bowl week when he referred to the locker room atmosphere as "walking on eggshells", but, ultimately, it was up to Irsay to be the bigger man.
For those fans in Indy, they will never forget what No. 18 brought to the Colts: 54,828 yards passing, 399 TDs, and two Super Bowl appearances(including a win over the Chicago Bears in SB XLI). They will not forget that Manning led the team to 10 or more regular season victories for nine straight seasons. They are also not soon to forget the way management kicked their favorite son out the door once they realized that he might not ever be that same type of player again.
Nowadays it seems a big deal is made when the star player of a city's pro sports franchise wants to bolt town for a bigger and better offer. In this instance the star(Manning) not only wanted to remain in the city he started(Indy), but he also indicated that he would be open to take a pay cut to do so. For Colts management to paint Manning as a villain after everything he has done for the team and city almost seems criminal.