Recent reports from SI.com say that quarterback Peyton Manning has been holding back when it comes to revealing his neck surgeries. NFL sources were cited on Feb. 15 as saying that Manning went through four medical surgeries/procedures on his injured neck over the past two years, not the three he has admitted to.
His most recent operation took place on Sept. 9 last year when doctors performed neck fusion surgery on him. He also underwent an operation in May to fix a bulging disk and now it’s believed that he had another procedure between those two, but the exact date isn’t known. Manning missed the entire NFL season for the Indianapolis Colts due to his condition, but he claims he’ll be ready to play when the 2012 season kicks off. However, the Colts aren’t completely convinced that he’ll be healthy.
The source said all four of Manning’s surgeries were performed on the right side of the player’s neck and the doctor who repaired his disk problem also took care of the previously unknown procedure in Chicago. Manning and his agent Tom Condon wouldn’t comment on the reports of a fourth surgery. It could be because he doesn’t want to scare the Colts away since he’s due for a $28 million bonus from the club by March 8.
The Colts need to protect themselves at the position just in case Manning can’t play anymore and will likely draft a quarterback in the first round of the college draft. Even if Manning is healthy enough to give it a go in the fall, he’ll be 36 years old and in the twilight of his career. The Colts could still release him and save themselves the $28 million bonus, making Manning a free agent.
It’s a big decision to make and they’re running out of time. Any money saved could be used for the team’s salary cap, allowing them to sign some decent free agents in the off-season. This would enable them to pick up a veteran quarterback to fill in until a draft pick learned the ropes and took over the starter’s role.
Manning will meet with Jim Irsay, the Colts’ owner, in the near future to see if they can come to some sort of mutual agreement about the player’s future with the football club. Irsay said on Feb. 14 that it’s up to Manning to decide what he wants to do. He added that he’d like to have Manning back in the lineup if he wants to come back. Irsay said he hopes Manning understands there could be a physical risk if he returns to top-level football and he should consider his long-term health before making a decision.
Manning’s under contract, but Irsay said if he returns to the team the deal can be restructured, which roughly translates into Manning having to take a cut in pay. The Colts believe Manning will need a further medical procedure to rectify his condition since he may have developed some bone spurs in his neck following the fusion surgery.