Peyton Manning will need to make adjustments upon return to Colts
Peyton Manning has been assured that he will be back with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, assuming he's healthy enough to play. But when Manning finally returns from the neck injury that prevented him from playing this season, it will be to a much different atmosphere than he's experienced in his 13 years with the team.
His close friend Bill Polian, the man who picked Manning in the first round of the NFL draft back in 1998, will no longer be around. On Monday, the Colts fired Polian, the team's vice president, and his son, Chris Polian, who has served as general manager the last four years.
"I was surprised, shocked, disappointed," Manning said of Polian's firing in a telephone interview with the Indianapolis Star.
"It's a sad day, and it's the worst part about this business. I'm sorry that it went down this way. I always thought Bill and I might retire around the same time. You kind of hoped for that fairy-tale ending, after winning a Super Bowl."
Also, the four-time MVP may have to look over his shoulder for the first time. The Colts will get the first pick in the 2012 draft after finishing the season with a dismal 2-14 record. And they would be crazy to pass up Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been deemed by pretty much everyone as the next superstar quarterback in the NFL.
Manning has said that he would have no problem adjusting to life with the future franchise quarterback hanging around.
"I think I can co-exist with any player I've ever played with," Manning said Sunday. "I think I've always been a good teammate in that way."
As for life without Polian around, that might be a bit more of an adjustment for Manning.
"I'd be the first to tell you that had Bill not been here when I was coming out for the draft, I'm not sure how I would have felt about coming to Indianapolis," Manning told the Star. "He was just an unbelievable draw to come play for the Indianapolis Colts. To me, he defines loyalty. I'll be forever indebted for what he did for me and my career."
-- Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Peyton Manning. Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press