Indianapolis - No one knows if Peyton Manning will ever play football again. But if anyone can come back from four neck surgeries, it’s Manning, according to former Colts general manager Bill Polian.
“I think if it’s humanly possible, he will play,” said Polian, who drafted Manning with the first overall pick in 1998. Polian was fired after the Colts went 2-14 last season. “Peyton wants to play very badly. He didn’t like the way last year went for him.”
Polian said the last time he saw Manning throw – in late December – he was encouraged by his progress. Manning underwent his fourth neck surgery in September, when he had two disks fused.
“He threw the ball and he threw it quite well,” said Polian, now an NFL analyst for SIRIUS XM NFL Radio. “The ball had good velocity, he was accurate, he was able to stand on the left hash and throw to the right sideline and vice versa. He drove the ball pretty well. He didn’t get much beyond 25 or 28 yards, but those throws that he made were accurate, on the money and had good velocity.
“I was impressed with the workout,” Polian said. “Clearly, he had come a long way from where he was in September and the statement that I made and which has been misconstrued in some quarters is that I said – and this is critical – that he looked great compared to where he was in September. Obviously, at that point, he still had a ways to go and from what I understand, he continues to improve – at least that’s what people tell me. How soon he’ll be back 100 percent I don’t know. But as I’ve said, from my perspective, watching him that day, I was positive and pleased.”
So, would Polian sign Manning if he was general manager of a team with a young quarterback, knowing he could get three or four years of quality football out of Manning? (Hint hint: a team in green-and-white)
“Three or four years is a lifetime in this business,” Polian said. “All I can tell you is that Peyton Manning is a unique individual from my perspective. Everybody has to make their own decision ... Peyton’s a winner through and through. No one maybe in the history of football prepares like Peyton Manning. He has a unique approach to the game that lifts everyone else around him.”