INDIANAPOLIS — The speculation over Peyton Manning’s future took center stage as Super Bowl week kicked off on Monday.
“Obviously the media has been very hungry for comments and those sort of things,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. “There’s a great interest here in Indianapolis. But Peyton and I, in talking this weekend and everything, we want the focus to be on the game.
“He’s excited about Eli, having his whole family coming in. And hosting the game. That’s where the focus should be. Obviously, it’s a story that has a lot of interest. But we’re going to go about this week with that focus in mind.”
In an interview with Peter King of Sports Illustrated on Sunday, Irsay denied an nfl.com report that the organization had made a decision weeks ago to move on from Manning, who missed the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury. The four-time NFL MVP is due a $28 million signing bonus on March 8, fueling speculation that the team will release him.
The Jets are among the teams that may pursue Manning if he hits the open market and is healthy. The Colts will likely select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
“For an owner, it’s what you dream about, having a player like that,” Irsay said. “You’re so blessed to have someone to come in and really to be such a part of the community, to be a part of the Golden Era who wants to win so much and everything like that.
“Eventually there will be the statue and there will be all those things. Him and I have been through a lot of battles together. We’re very close. Some of the things that get out there. . . . There’s probably misconception(s) because we’re family. We give each other flak.
“We’ve given each other flak though the years. . . . He’s competitive and so am I. But I love him and what he’s meant to the franchise. . . . He’s everything you dream about as an owner in terms of getting that type of player.
I’ve been just blessed with all the things that he’s done for the franchise through the years.”
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