AL HAMNIK: No hard feelings between Peyton Manning and Colts' brass

2013-06-15T17:30:00Z 2013-11-26T20:04:13Z AL HAMNIK: No hard feelings between Peyton Manning and Colts' brassAl Hamnik Times Columnist
June 15, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

Sports ownership is seldom beloved and waiving the face of your franchise will get the angry villagers lighting torches quicker than anything.

Like when Highland native Ryan Grigson, the Colts' new general manager a year ago, and team owner Jim Irsay decided to part company with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.

That was like handing Bambi over to the NRA.

"I barely got a chance to really know Peyton," Grigson said. "I came into the thing knowing Jim (Irsay) was going to handle that with Peyton because they had such a history together.

"It ended up being an amicable departure."

For stunned fans, watching "The Sheriff" leave town was a horror story complete with shrieks and howls.

"My assistant handled all those calls," Grigson chuckled. "Believe me, I got plenty of calls. I got plenty of emails.

"But I was so darn busy, (the anger) was like static. I was just so focused. I had to hire a head coach. Hire coordinators. I had to let go like 19 coaches. It was such a fever pitch, but you're only as good as the people around you."

And the Colts of first-year coach Chuck Pagano were very good last season, going from 2-14 to 11-5 and making the playoffs behind No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, who threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns.

That eased the sting of Manning's dismissal.

After all, he had played 14 seasons for Indianapolis, was a 12-time Pro-Bowler, the Super Bowl XLI MVP and had a career passer rating of 95.7.

But Manning is also 37 and had missed the 2011 season with a neck injury that required two delicate surgeries. The Colts released him that March and two weeks later Denver signed him to a five-year, $96 million contract.

You know what happened next: Manning started all 16 games, threw for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.

The NFL Comeback Player of the Year award was the cherry on his sundae.

Being the class guy he is, Manning didn't take shots at Colts' management, though many established stars would've emptied both barrels after being released.

Whether it was Grigson, Irsay or both that cut the parachute cord is anyone's guess. Manning chose to move on. He just wanted to show the world he could still perform at a high level.

"You see how well he's done, so everything ended fine," Grigson told me. "At the end of the day, we had to make a decision that was best for the organization.

"That's what it always comes down to, no matter if it's the 90th man on the roster or a person in the building. At the end of the day, is this person helping us to move the organization forward and be world champions?"

Fortunately, Grigson has been able to prepare for his second season at the helm without interruption.

"We're kinda wired the same at our place. Chuck and I both welcome the pressure," he said. "You always set the bar real high. That's what we did last year and that's what we'll do this year."

Peyton Manning has done it for 15 seasons, which gives him reserved parking in Canton, Ohio.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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