It is no secret these days that a rift has opened between the Indianapolis Colts and their 4-time league MVP quarterback Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Fame quarterback is due a $28 million roster bonus on March 8, despite having sat out the entire 2011 season with a neck injury - an injury that required three surgeries in 18-months - and the team in position to draft the best quarterback prospect since...well, Peyton Manning.
The Colts have spent this offseason gutting the franchise, firing executive and coaches alike, and preparing for the Andrew Luck era. Which leaves Manning, the man who made the Colts relevant over the last decade, as the odd man out. Back on January 23, Manning spoke about the situation in Indy:
"I'm not in a very good place for healing, let's say that. It's not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least. Everybody's walking around on eggshells. I don't recognize our building right now. There's such complete and total change."
Apparently, Manning meant exactly what he said. Yesterday, word broke that the quarterback is rehabbing, not in Indianapolis, but in North Carolina at Duke University. According to dukehoopblog.com, Duke offensive lineman Matt Skura tweeted, "Got to stretch next to Peyton Manning today and say hello #OnlyAtDuke."
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe was Manning's offensive coordinator during Manning's time as the quarterback for the University of Tennessee. Cutcliffe also worked with Manning's brother, Eli, during last off season's lockout - Eli was named game MVP during last week's Super Bowl XVLI win for the New York Giants over the New England Patriots.
Peyton Manning being at Duke this offseason demonstrates his focus on preparing for the 2012 season, no matter where he may end up. It also shows that he is working to get strength back in his arm, more concerned about the nerve regeneration in his shoulder than the status of his neck healing.
Manning is limited in the activities he can conduct with the Colts, with the primary focus being medical needs. He is authorized to throw passes to team trainers, and be supervised by team doctors, but cannot directly work with other players or coaches, under NFL offseason rules. He is not constrained by those limitations working at Duke.
Manning is expected to sit down with Colts owner Jim Irsay sometime in the next week to determine his future with the franchise. If he is released by the Colts, he will be free to sign immediately with a new team, and is, reportedly, willing to sign an incentive based contract, with little to no guaranteed money.