When announcing the decision to release longtime franchise quarterback Peyton Manning yesterday, Colts owner Jim Irsay insisted the decision was not motivated by money. "In the end, before we ever go into any specifics, it's never been about money. It's never been about those tpe of things," he said.
I didn't see the press conference, but it seems he said this with a straight face.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, Peyton Manning's contract stipulated that the Colts owed him and his laser rocket arm $28 million if he were on the roster on March 8th. We are led to believe, then, that through some epic, earth-shattering coincidence, Manning was released March 7th.
Why lie about it? From a business perspective, the decision is reasonable, and the reasons for it were referenced time and time again in Manning's farewell press conference. Manning has had countless* procedures on his neck in the last year, and may never throw another pass in the NFL. Even if he completes his rehab procedures and suits up once again, the man has been in the league since 1998. Years upon years of vicious hits** take their toll after awhile. At this stage in his career, the great Peyton Manning is morphing into that 1995 Subaru wagon you had in college: no matter how many things you fix, the next breakdown is right around the corner.
The Irsay family is of course infamous for unpopular business decisions compounded by abysmal public relations, but Manning deserves a more honest send-off. With such transparent financial motivations, why not tell the truth? Why not say, "As much as we appreciate everything Peyton Manning has done for the Colts and the city of Indianapolis, this football team is at heart a business with the goal of winning football games. And it makes no sense from that perspective to pay eight figures to a 36 year old*** with a debilitating neck injury who may never throw another pass.
"It's not personal; it's strictly business."
*-countless (n): a number I can't be bothered to look up
**-Not including those leveled by bounty hunters.
***-Ok, 35 and 11 months.