INDIANAPOLIS – On Sunday, the New York Giants and New England Patriots play in Super Bowl XLVI.
While the game is a hot discussion point in the host site, one that rivals it is the health of the starting quarterback of the local team.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning continues to rehabilitate from neck surgeries. Manning has stated he feels he is recovering at a pace outlined by physicians involved. Owner and CEO Jim Irsay said there is no update and the matter remains a complicated one with which to deal. Irsay and Manning have spoken, and that is where the matter is.
"We'll definitely sit down and talk after the Super Bowl," said Irsay. "We've talked already. In terms of a timeline…I think it's something that I would imagine would go into early March in terms of us having a conversation. It's a serious medical thing. It's a very complicated medical issue."
One thing that is complicated is the uniqueness of the medical situation.
"There are a lot of things that get lost in the shuffle in looking at the situation," said Irsay. "One of the things is you just haven't seen this in an NFL quarterback at all. When you try to consult doctors literally worldwide in terms of what are the expectations, what are the dangers, the risks, the aspects of coming back from it, no one can give you a definitive answer. It's one of those things I know where even some of the doctors said if this came up again that it's going to be something people are going to rely on as trying to have some sort of historic reference medically to look back on. It's very unusual. It's been going on for almost a year."
Irsay says he has watched Manning throw, but declined to provide a depiction of the workout. He and Manning both hope a possible return would be to the same level at which he has played.
"I've said from the beginning, it's a two-phase medical aspect," said Irsay. "Can he return to play at a really high level? (That's) what his expectations are. That's the only level he wants to be. Can he drill it (50 yards) in Foxborough in January when it's 10 degrees outside? Is he going to be back to the highest level, the Hall-of-Fame level, he expects to play at? The second issue always has been the health and the risk of going back onto the field. They're two separate issues. They're complicated issues."
Though no timetable has been set for discussions after the Super Bowl for Irsay and Manning, there is a March 8 deadline contract-wise where the club is scheduled to decide on the future. Irsay declined again to get into medical details but conceded the possibility that sometime later in the spring could provide a better snapshot on Manning's rehabilitation than the date in early March. He said also the date in March could possibly be adjusted.
"Anything's possible if two parties choose to get together and do that," said Irsay. "I don't think that's something that is an impossibility by any stretch."
Irsay said General Manager Ryan Grigson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano still are putting together a coaching staff, and that it will include Clyde Christensen in an offensive capacity, possibly wide receivers or quarterbacks coach. Christensen was the offensive coordinator in recent seasons, and Bruce Arians has been named to that post under Pagano. Irsay also indicated the club places a priority in re-signing defensive end Robert Mathis and expects the team will get it done either through a franchise tag or with a new contract. Irsay indicated the team wishes to retain wide receiver Pierre Garcon along the same lines, too.