Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski, the longtime ESPN analyst, believes that Peyton Manning will ultimately part ways with the Colts and wind up with another team sometime this spring. The best fit, according to Jaws: the Jets.
“I love Mark Sanchez and there are 25 other quarterbacks in this league that I would take Peyton Manning over,” Jaworski told Mike Missanelli in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, courtesy of sportsradiointerviews.com. “There’s a turf war in New York. The Giants just won the Super Bowl. The Jets are fighting for every inch of space they can get in the newspaper. How do you get that inch? How do you get the headlines? You sign Peyton Manning.”
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The Jets have publicly insisted that Sanchez is their quarterback of the present and future, but for a team that once traded for Brett Favre, it’s tough to say the Jets wouldn’t at least consider Manning, who is currently under contract with the Colts. His situation should come to a head in the coming weeks, since the Colts owe Manning a $28 million bonus on March 8. If they don’t pay him that bonus, Manning is free to sign with any team.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said as recently as last Wednesday that he will not comment on Manning because of the league’s tampering rules that prevent teams publicly discussing players from other clubs.
“I think Peyton Manning ends up playing somewhere else,” Jaworski said. “I think it’s a win-win for everyone. Certainly, when you look at the Colts right now, they’re a team that’s going through their development process with a new coaching staff and new players. It’s going to be just like when Peyton came on board, years to develop that football team. I think it’s best for Peyton to go and play on a team that can compete for a Super Bowl, a team that might be a quarterback away from elevating that team to Super Bowl status and I think that would be a win-win situation.”
Jaworski also addressed the recent decision to remove him from the ESPN Monday Night Football telecast, and sounded like he was at peace with the change.
“It truly is bittersweet,” he said. “When you do Monday Night Football for five years and you work with some incredible people … they become like your family. In that regard, I’m going to miss it. There’s no question in that. It’s a high-profile position, it’s Monday Night Football. I’ve had the seat for five years and enjoyed every second of it. But I’m also very excited about the new initiatives that I’m going to be involved with at ESPN. One of them is going to be a national radio show. … I’ll be a part of Sunday Countdown, Monday Countdown, NFL Live, you name it, every platform that ESPN has, I’ll be a part of.”
Jaworski hasn’t been given a specific reason for being taken out of the booth, but he believes the network wanted to go with the younger Jon Gruden in a two-man booth.
“What I’m going to tell you is pure speculation, based on what I’ve heard … from the leaders and captains of industry at ESPN,” he said. “They just feel that a two-man booth was the way to go. Obviously, I’m the odd man out. I’m the 60-year-old guy and Jon’s the young guy that they believe is the future. I’m not going to argue with that. … I think what was crystal clear is they had great respect for me, incredible respect, which I truly appreciate. … They put me in a position that is really, really good in giving me the platforms to develop some of my own programming to do some things that I’ve always wanted to do. And at the end of the day, they’re paying me a lot of money, so I can’t argue with any of that.”