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Peyton Manning: Is the decision to return to Colts his to make?

February 15, 2012 | 12:02 pm

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is welcome to return to the Indianapolis Colts -- as long as he is willing to restructure his contract. So said Colts owner Jim Irsay on Tuesday.

Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether they believe Irsay when he says the decision is Manning's to make. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

I believe Jim Irsay is sincere when he says he wants Peyton Manning back, as long as it’s at a reasonable price –- one that would allow the Colts to draft Andrew Luck and stay out of salary-cap jail.

What we’re watching is a high-stakes, high-profile game of chicken, with each side -– the Colts and Peyton -– determined to come away looking like the good guy. If financially feasible, the Colts would accept the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers template of letting Luck learn at the elbow of Manning for a season rather than immediately plunging into the fire.

The question is, how willing is Manning to come off that $28-million number to finish his career in Indianapolis? The latest move by Irsay puts the ball back in the quarterback’s court.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

Last month, Jim Irsay called the face of his franchise “a politician.” And he didn’t mean it in a nice way.

On Tuesday, Irsay told anyone who would listen that he’s open to Peyton Manning’s return to the Colts.  It will be at a reduced, restructured pay rate, but the door is open for good old Peyton to walk back into his house.

In fact, it will be Peyton’s call. The ball is in Peyton’s court. And so on and so on, Irsay repeated.

And now Irsay sits and waits for a return shot from Manning’s camp. In a game of back-and-forth, Irsay has fired a public relations salvo that will position the Colts as winners in what is unfolding as an ugly departure for the future Hall of Famer.

If Manning leaves, Irsay can say it was Manning’s decision. If he stays –- which seems highly unlikely –- Irsay and the Colts look magnanimous after disrespecting their franchise player.

It’s clear Andrew Luck is coming and it’s hard to imagine Manning returning as a mentor, especially after the way Irsay has handled the last few months. If Irsay really wanted Manning to end his career as a Colt, wouldn’t he hold a private conversation with Manning and his representatives instead of airing his intentions publicly?

This smells like a political power play intended to show Manning the door without looking like a bad guy.


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Photo: Peyton Manning. Credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press