AL HAMNIK: Peyton, Colts avoid the TMZ approach

2013-10-20T20:00:00Z 2013-10-21T14:59:07Z AL HAMNIK: Peyton, Colts avoid the TMZ approachAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 20, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Ryan Grigson has made the Colts relevant once again in this, just his second season as general manager.

Can we all agree on that?

The Highland grad has done it with gutsy trades, snappy draft work, and a keen eye on what it takes to win in today's NFL.

Peyton Manning wasn't in the plans when Grigson took over.

We still don't officially know who gave Manning his walking papers – Grigson or Colts' owner and CEO Jim Irsay.

"I barely got a chance to know Peyton," Grigson told me last June. "I came into the thing knowing Jim was going to handle that with Peyton because they had such a history together.

"It ended up being an amicable departure."

Fast forward to Manning's return to Indianapolis on Sunday with his unbeaten Denver Broncos. NBC was in town most of the week, prepping for the biggest game this season.

Manning faced the cameras and microphones everywhere he went, avoiding questions about his abrupt departure. Grigson, always media friendly, stayed in the shadows for the most part.

Sunday was no different. This was about his Colts and the explosive Broncos, not he and Manning or Irsay and Manning.

Distractions would not take away from this classic meeting.

When the Broncos signed Manning to a five-year, $96 million contract, believing his two delicate neck surgeries were a thing of the past, angry Colts fans became more vocal.

"My assistant handled all those calls," Grigson told me in that June interview. "Believe me, I got plenty of calls. I got plenty of emails."

Manning got a rousing ovation from the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd of 67,196 during pre-game introductions – and that was it as the Colts grabbed a surprising 26-14 halftime lead.

"I feel like this is a business trip," Manning had said during his mid-week conference call. "It's a very good defense we're getting ready for. It may sound strange, but it's an unfamiliar opponent. There's a lot of guys on defense I've never played against.

"I can't tell you how I'll feel walking into the stadium. I've never been through anything quite like that."

Would he be anxious? Nervous? Vengeful? All the above?

"Can't predict it," he replied.

Does the body and the arm feel as good as it has since the surgery?

"That's between me and my body," Manning said, jokingly.

Will it seem strange to dress in the visitors' locker room?

"I'll know more after the game and I'm not 100 per cent positive I will share that," Manning said.

Most of the team jerseys at Sunday's game were the No. 12 – Andrew Luck, the Colts' future, and Manning's successor.

"Andrew Luck has done a phenomenal job early on in his career of running the system the way it's supposed to be run," Manning said.

"He's done a great job of taking what the defense gives him."

Luck had the definite upper hand, statistically, in the first half, making short work of those what-if-Peyton-had-stayed questions.

This was a game all fans deserved.

Save the TMZ garbage for reality TV.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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