Archie Manning expects his son, Peyton, to continue being a pain in the neck for NFL defenses this season.
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He, like every other football fan, isn’t exactly sure when that will be.
The patriarch of football’s first family said Monday his son’s recovery from neck surgery isn’t going as quickly as the Colts quarterback had hoped, though he should be ready in time for the start of the season.
”It’s just been 10 days,” the father said. ”He’s not where he wants to be. It’s just something that came up and had to be done, so hopefully it’ll work out.”
Manning spoke to reporters during Jim Kelly’s charity golf tournament in Batavia, N.Y., about 40 miles east of Buffalo. This year’s event, the 25th anniversary of Kelly’s first tournament, is expected to raise more than $400,000 for the Hall of Fame quarterback’s Kelly For Kids Foundation, which distributes money to numerous children-supported charities across western New York.
Those attending the event included Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, former Bills stars Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed, and Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, the architect of Buffalo’s four Super Bowl teams.
Between the neck surgery and the ongoing lockout, there were lots of issues to talk about.
At the top of the list was the surgery Peyton Manning had last month to remove part of a bulging disk. It was the second time in 15 months Indianapolis’ franchise player had neck surgery.
Two weeks ago, Colts owner Jim Irsay said he expected the recovery to take six to eight weeks. Archie Manning did not provide an updated timetable for his son’s return.
There are, of course, other complications in play.
Manning’s contract expired after last season. In February, the Colts put the exclusive franchise tag on Manning – a move that prevents him from negotiating with other teams. If he signs the one-year deal, he would make $23 million next season.
But until the labor situation is settled, the Colts can’t even negotiate.
Without providing precise details, Irsay has said he’s already offered Manning a deal that will make him the highest-paid player in league history. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady currently holds that distinction after signing a four-year contract that pays him $72 million for a record average annual salary of $18 million.
There’s also the ongoing lockout.
Peyton Manning was one of the players on a class-action antitrust lawsuit intended to end the work stoppage. Archie Manning said both of his sons, Peyton and Giants quarterback Eli Manning, have been working out with teammates, so they’ll be ready for the start of the season – whenever it happens.
”They’re not frustrated. A quarterback’s duty now is to try to organize his team and have some workouts, so they’ve both been doing that throughout the offseason on and off,” Archie Manning said. ”Unfortunately, Peyton just had a little surgery, so he’s down right now. They’re like all the other players. They love what they do. They want to get back at it and have a season.”
The father can’t wait for a resolution, either.
”There’s really nothing to create urgency thus far. The closer we get probably to July, hopefully both sides kind of say, ‘We need to get this done so there can be some practice time,”’ he said. ”I just sincerely hope they don’t miss any games. I really don’t want to miss games. The NFL has done such a great job through the years, it’s a great product, a great game, and I understand both sides and what they’re trying to do. But I’m just like all the other fans, I hope it can get done.”
Until then, the Colts will apparently be getting updates on their best-known player any way they can, including talking to Manning’s father.
”Well, we had a conversation about general things like the twins and how Peyton’s doing,” Polian said, referring to the two children Peyton and his wife welcomed in March. ”It was good to see him.”
But the Colts would rather see a resolution to the lockout and get their quarterback back on the field quickly, too.
”If things go right, he’ll be there for the season,” Archie Manning said.