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Updated: Sept. 8, 2011, 10:15 a.m.
The AFC South seems to have fallen from greatness as one of the NFL’s fiercest divisions and has evolved into one of the league’s bottom-feeders, and the leading factor is a single injury. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has been the long-lived king of the division, but rumors suggest his reign could be over, at least for this season.
A report from Jake Query, a radio host for WNDE in Indianapolis suggests Manning, who has been recovering from a neck surgery, underwent a third surgery earlier this week and is done for the rest of the year. The severity of Manning’s neck problem isn’t anything new. However, this particular report about it ending his year is new.
Report, Rumor - Same Thing
Colts owner Jim Irsay uses Twitter to reach out to fans and really lit the fire when he let people know about Manning’s continuing trouble with his neck. Either Irsay needs a TweetSheet with notes about not publicizing injuries, or he wanted first dibs at causing Colts fans to panic and fans of divisional opponents to celebrate. But the team did not confirm nor deny this latest report from Query until Irsay Tweeted again late Wednesday night.
“Peyton didn’t have a medical procedure last sunday,we’ll have more info 2 add clarity 2 situation soon,” Irsay wrote on Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning, Irsay took to Twitter again, adding even more confusion to the Manning saga. Though he still would not confirm nor deny the report that Manning would be out for the season, he did seem to hint that the quarterback’s injuries could keep him out longer than week one.
“NFL Season opens 2nite!We had a good practice yesterday and r guys r fired up 4 the season.#18′s out for awhile,but compete,we will/BELIEVE,” he posted.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what “awhile” means, but it surely stands to scare Colts fans into believing their prized captain could miss the season.
Other very well-respected members of the NFL media have added their own speculation as to Manning’s future.
SI’s Peter King said via Twitter: “Manning could have a procedure. He and team still investigating options. But it has not happened yet.”
Who knows, though? Manning’s doctors might not even know yet if he’ll be able to play at all this season.
Backup Plan Anyway
Manning has already been ruled out for their season opener. Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins, who was pulled out of retirement just two weeks ago, will start for the Colts against the Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Although Collins has had his fair share of shining moments against the Texans, Houston fans seem to like their team’s chances to win the division more without Manning leading the Colts offense.
Manning, who’s started 227 consecutive NFL games and hasn’t missed a game since his freshman year at the University of Tennessee, holds a 16-2 record against the Texans.
The star quarterback missing the season opener against a divisional opponent is one thing, but Manning potentially missing out on the season is another. It would be unfortunate for the Manning family and the Indianapolis fan base, but it could be the ammo needed to shake up the pecking order in the AFC South. Could be.
Manning said in an earlier report that being disappointed about being unable to play is an understatement.
“The best part about football is being out there on the field with my teammates. It will be tough not to be out there playing for the organization and our fans. I simply am not healthy enough to play, and I am doing everything I can to get my health back.”
Don’t hold your breath, Texans fans. This is Peyton Manning we’re talking about. He’s eager. He’s a competitor. He’s king. He’ll get Houston somehow. He always does.