It’s Not About the Money

Yeah, right, and a spanking hurts me more than it hurts you.

Did you ever think you would read the headline “Indianapolis Colts release Peyton Manning”? Would you have ever thought it possible that both Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning would be tripping over themselves to try to convince us that it doesn’t have anything to do with the $28 million dollar bonus Manning was due this year?

The press conference was full of tears. An emotional Manning bid farewell to his fans. Irsay announced they would retire number 18. All sweetness and roses. A Bruce and Demi type split.

If they all love each other so much down in Indy, why did they have to let him go? Even if they take the QB Andrew Luck with their number 1 draft pick, wouldn’t you love to have Peyton around to teach the kid a thing or two? I know I would.

But QB Coaches don’t get paid a $28m bonus. No team can afford to have a $51m bench warmer.

If Peyton had really wanted to stay, he could have deferred the bonus. He could have agreed to a rider in the contract that would have made it possible for the team to cut his salary if he didn’t play. Now, the Players’ Union might not allow things like that, and I wouldn’t put it past them. But, if Peyton really wanted to stay, they certainly could have worked out a way to keep him there. Peyton didn’t want to give up the elite contract. Isray didn’t want to pay elite QB money. No matter what fiction they weave, that is the long and the short of it.

Could it be that Irsay wouldn’t guarantee that Peyton, if healthy, would be the starting QB? I can’t believe Irsay would give the slot to Luck. How many college players are actually ready to start in the NFL first year out? Sure, Peyton Manning was, but as we all know, he was just a little special.

Any of us that like to live under the delusion that team matters more than money need only to look at LeBron James, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, among others to see that money holds all he cards these days. We might say “when you make that much money, is $4m really that important?” Yup. I’d be willing to bet that it does. It isn’t just about the money. The money is the easiest way to gauge how you stand against other players. If you let someone less talented than you get paid more, well, you look like a chump.

We can’t expect players to stay loyal to teams when we know that they will trade anyone away. No one is immune. When you are no longer the shiny new toy, they can’t wait to search out the newest and best. Teams are notorious for cutting players loose. Why is it that we only look to the players to show a little class. The teams are just as guilty.

Maybe there really was no way for this to end differently. It is possible Peyton Manning will never play again. It’s possible that Indy will never again have the kind of team Peyton Manning built for them again. Dynasties are meant to be dismantled. There are waves to every cycle.

I just wish they would call a pipe a pipe. The only reason this relationship falls apart is because of money. At one of their meetings both men realized that they all look like assholes if they make it about money. So they agree to go out there and put on a show. Peyton doesn’t want to make the franchise he built look like a bunch of jerks. Irsay doesn’t want to be they guy who makes America’s quarterback look like a money guy. But we are all money guys. We all chase the bigger paycheck.

Now the real money will start flowing. They say this will be the biggest free agent hunt in history. At least 12 teams are tripping over themselves to at least talk to Mr. Manning. Who knows, someone might be just desperate enough to pay him close to his Colt’s contract for the chance that he will be healthy enough to play for them. He did not pass the Colt’s physical. But the Colt’s were probably looking for an excuse, and any new team might shade the exam in the other direction.

No matter where he ends up (I’m thinking Houston or Miami), he will be an unbelievable asset. He didn’t have to be on the sidelines for every game last year, but he was. He seems smart and composed and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as head coach for someone someday.

I just hope to see him as a part of my football experience for years to come.

Good luck to everyone involved.

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