The season-long speculation over whether injured Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will return to his team — or even the NFL — next season has been settled: Sources close to actor Rob Lowe have told the popular television and film star that Manning will retire.
Yes. Rob Lowe.
At 12:15 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Lowe (@RobLowe) tweeted to his 233,692 followers and counting:
“Hearing my fave, #18 Peyton Manning will not return to #NFL. Wow. #Colts.”
It was the tweet heard 'round the sports world, retweeted multiple times and instantly vaulting “Rob Lowe” to No. 5 and "Peyton Manning" to No. 7 among Twitter's trending topics in the United States.
It is unclear whether NFL sources directed the insider info to Rob Lowe, the celebrity, or to Chris Traeger, the city manager of fictional Pawnee, Ind., and the character Lowe portrays in the hit NBC television comedy "Parks and Recreation."
Lowe — not one to let a sleeping scoop lie — immediately followed up with a Twitter query to NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen:
"My people are saying Manning will retire today. What do you hear? #NFL," Lowe tweeted to @richeisen two minutes after his initial blockbuster hit the Internet.
Then, at 12:24 p.m. PT, Lowe tried to calm the storm he had created. A little:
"#Colts fans, let's hope my info is wrong. Don't like being wrong, but this time … I'm hoping #NFL #Manning"
For those who care, Lowe relayed the information via the Twitter for iPhone app.
Interestingly, the first person Twitter-loving Colts owner Jim Irsay (100,236 followers) followed on the social media site was, in fact … Rob Lowe.
For what it's worth, Manning's father, Archie, and his agent, Tom Condon, have denied the Twitter rumor.
Editors' Note: This story was not reported from Pawnee, Ind., which is the fictional setting for "Parks and Recreation."