What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
If you aren’t familiar, Ali-Favre Syndrome is a diagnosis common amongst aging athletes who lose their ability to tell when it is time to retire. Named for its two most famous examples, Muhammad Ali and Brett Favre, the name needs to be updated today with the news that Peyton Manning does not intend to retire.
Tom Condon, the agent for Peyton Manning, talked with NFL Network about the flurry of news reports we’ve seen this week regarding the current Indianapolis Colts quarterback. On Thursday, ESPN reported that Manning had received clearance to play, which Condon confirmed saying his client was “structurally sound.”
I’m no doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I happen to be the proud owner of a neck, and I’m pretty sure that before I’m going to face on-rushing 300-pound defensive I want to hear something a bit more encouraging than “structurally sound.” The 35W Bridge was “structurally sound;” I would really like to hear something more along the lines of “your neck won’t snap like kindling and we won’t be wheeling you around for the next 40 years.”
Wait…it gets better.
He did, however, point out that Manning is still waiting on the nerves to regenerate in his arm so, while technically healthy enough to play, he’s really not game-ready. So we’re pretty much in the same place we were before the ESPN report.
Now, unless I’m mistaken, “pretty much in the same place” means “Manning hasn’t seen the field in over a year, we’re on our third surgery to fix the problem, and if the Colts’ season started today, their options behind center are Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky.” To me, that means the key in that whole sentence is “he’s really not game-ready.” That could mean anything from “Manning’s just a little rusty; a couple of practices and he’s good to go” to “This guy couldn’t hit water with a football if he threw it off a fucking boat.”
Pay attention to the deliberate vagueries in the following paragraph.
Condon also confirmed that Manning wants to continue playing and plans to continue playing. This comes in despite of several reports recently that retirement is an option for Manning. The Colts quarterback said similar things publicly in an interview with ESPN.
Notice how the verbs are soft; “wants to” or “plans to” instead of definites like “will continue playing” or “commits to returning.” It’s no accident the word “retirement” comes right after those soft verbs.
Now, for the kicker.
Condon said Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay remained close, despite communicating through the media lately, but all signs continue to point toward the Colts releasing Manning sometime before his large roster bonus is due on March 8.
This is all a chess game between Irsay and Manning. The whole reason Irsay gave Manning that ridiculous contract last year was because he doesn’t want to be the guy who tells Colts Nation the Manning era is over. As it stands now, Irsay wants Manning to be that guy by simply retiring. Manning can’t bring himself to believe that for what is probably the first time in his athletic career, he is the odd man out.
The bottom line is just as simple. Even if Manning can play, and even if he ends his career in a uniform other than that of a Colt, he’s never going to be the Peyton Manning of five years ago ever again. We’ve seen to many great athletes become sad figures by hanging on to the dream just a bit too long, and that list does not need a new addition.
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