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PARTING SHOTS
TIM LAYDEN
February 06, 2012
Things get ugly in Indy as Peyton Manning and the Colts face what's next
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February 06, 2012

Parting Shots

Things get ugly in Indy as Peyton Manning and the Colts face what's next

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Instead, his exit has already become unseemly. It will be ruled, as with all things in the NFL, by health and money. The Colts must decide by March 8 whether to pay a contracted $28 million bonus to a quarterback who might not be healthy enough to play another down. It seems a virtual certainty that they will instead cut Manning loose and start anew with the cheaper, younger and very promising Luck.

Manning, meanwhile, has given no indication that he will retire unless he's told he's never going be physically sound. If he heals, he will almost surely become the highest-profile free agent in NFL history and try to rescue another franchise the way he rescued the Colts beginning 14 years ago. He will be 36, wearing the colors of the Cardinals or the Redskins or the Dolphins. Or somebody else.

He will need time to build another passing attack, to teach another set of receivers the intricate quirks of his game. He will need just the right coach and just the right coordinator. And then he will need time, of which very little is available for a man of his age playing the toughest position in sports.

Manning's father is remembered as a Saint for life, but the last three years of Archie Manning's very solid NFL career were divided between Houston and Minnesota (excepting a single game with the Saints to start the 1982 season). He won not a single game that he started in those three years and threw eight touchdowns with 15 interceptions while absorbing a fierce beating.

It was an ignominious end to a decent man's career, and it's painful to imagine his son going out the same way. Think back to Tennessee and those days of promise. Rare is the athlete who fulfills every ounce of his potential, yet even that does not guarantee a fitting end.

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