Last week as I waited for my pastrami on rye, I asked the guy behind the counter of my favorite deli (a devout Colts fan) what he thought the team should do about its future and even more specifically, one Peyton Manning.
He proceeded to tell me he felt that Jim Irsay should tell everyone he is preparing a season ticket renewal notice for just what is going on with his star quarterback and if he will play again before he drops that notice in the mail. Sounds fair to me I thought, and as I drove away I could not help but think about the inevitable:
THE COLTS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO RELEASE PEYTON MANNING.
What would have never been thought of at one time is certainly being contemplated as I write this, and more than likely the decision has already been made. The problem is every single person who pays the big bucks for Colts season tickets most likely will not get the skinny on the situation until after they have renewed their seats.
Yes indeed, one more season of sellouts will be on the books before they can pull the plug on Manning’s contract, which if not terminated by virtue of a convenient out option before March 4, 2012, will cost Irsay a whopping $28 million for next season. There have been various reports as to which camp insisted on the out option with some stating that Manning himself requested such to protect the Colts.
That hardly passes the sniff test and Bill Polian would have been at the very least negligent if he himself did not insist on such language giving the organization added flexibility, in what will obviously be a major rebuilding job as far as the roster for next season (and beyond) is concerned. On track to secure a high draft pick and quite possibly the coveted No. 1 selection, the Colts obviously have no shame in their game as they proceed with all this talk about the imminent return of Manning and better yet, the return to the Super Bowl hunt.
Manning in his typical I will tell you what I want you to know, when I want you to know it fashion, remains a fixture at practice and on the sidelines at games, despite the fact that he has not had the strength to properly throw a football for more than 10 months now. Not exactly a promising situation, but with all that guaranteed revenue for next season, and the continuation of what can only be described as a sweetheart of a stadium deal to boot, only Manning’s contract coming off the books could make Irsay smile even more and I have to think he is happier than a gopher in soft dirt right about now.
Looking at things realistically, why wouldn’t he be? However, the deliberate delay of announcing Manning’s logical release to the season ticket base is just absurdly wrong and falls completely short of proper business dealings. Then again, being held hostage by ownership is a constant in professional sports so why should Irsay be any different from his esteemed colleagues?
I can think of numerous reasons, such as the unwavering financial support of fans throughout the state, especially during the lean years when the Colts couldn’t beat a Pop Warner team if you spotted them two touchdowns. Many of those people paid a special tax on food and beverages designed to further fatten the coffers of the team every time they dined out, and a great number of them have never set a foot in to a game as a result of the cost prohibitiveness of it all.
All that and then some allowed in part for the Taj Mahal known as Lucas Oil Stadium to be built and line the pockets of Irsay even further at a time when our public school system was in financial shambles and with many residing in the direct shadow of the glitzy new venue living in a profound state of poverty and without proper health care. Now as I gracefully exit the proverbial soapbox, I must say that I too have been part of this hypocrisy as I have profited financially from my work through newspaper, radio, and the network broadcasts of the games. That in itself makes me no better than Irsay and company, but the one glaring difference is that I have not withheld information from people that is needed to make sound financial decisions as a strategy to fatten my bottom line.
The reality is, Manning will be fine monetarily, and Irsay certainly will continue to prosper. The only ones who lose next season are the loyal and faithful season ticket holders who renew under the auspice that Manning will come running out of that tunnel on opening night next season and throw for 400 yards as he leads the team to victory.
Irsay knows that is not going to happen and by simply conceding that now he will lose a lot of money, but he will retain whatever ability he has left to look himself in the mirror as he shaves each morning. Then again, how do you put a price on something that really shouldn’t be for sale to begin with?
Danny Bridges, who feels Colts tickets for next season should be half price, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.