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The Peyton Manning Saga -- A Very Special 4 Winners, 4 Losers

"Peyton Manning's not going to let (the Colts) draft Andrew Luck." -- Phil Simms

"I don't talk to Phil. Phil doesn't talk to me. He did text me after that, saying 'Hey, sorry to drag your name into this.' I wrote back, 'Phil I don't know what you're talking about.' He said, 'Well on my show, "Inside the NFL," I made this statement.' I said, 'Phil, I hate to break it to you, but I don't watch your show, along with a lot of other people that I don't think watch that show.' Giving himself a little more credit than probably was merited." -- Peyton Manning

The Peyton Manning neck injury. It started as merely a season-crushing blow to the perennial powerhouse in the AFC South, and as the season has rolled on it's turned into so much more.

With the Colts out to a wretched 0-8 start it's become a potential draft-shaper, and with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as the potential prize in that draft, it's become the daily kindling for arguments over what the Colts should do if they land the first pick, how shaky the future of the Colts franchise is, and just how franchise-changing (-saving?) a player Luck will be.

So stellar a topic is the Manning injury that I think it deserves its own mid-week edition of 4 Winners, 4 Losers. So let's get it started.....

WINNERS

4. Kerry Collins You kind of had a feeling that the Colts were in trouble when Peyton Manning wasn't playing in the early part of the preseason. But the "Shitty Backup Quarterback" threat level jumped from yellow to red (blazed right past orange) when the Colts signed Collins to a one-year, $4 million deal about two weeks before the start of the season. Once the season started, it took all of about two games for Collins to be exposed for what he was -- a nearly 40-year-old guy who, in early August, was at home playing with his kids. (I've been one of those before; I was ill-equipped to run an NFL offense.) Now he's on injured reserve with a concussed head, which makes his $4 million one of the easiest gigs in the league, and spawned the question on my show "How much would someone have to pay you to give you a concussion?" (Because essentially that's what the Colts paid Collins for...they paid him $4 million to get a concussion. That's it.) Full disclosure: My dollar amount was FAR lower than $4 million. FAR lower.

3. Curtis Painter And with the removal of Collins, Painter stepped back into the breach. Aside from his newly found relevancy being fodder for many a comedian making a joke about his last name (i.e. "You could find an actual painter who would be a better choice at quarterback"), Painter is banking some major equity in the "fooling some team into thinking he's a serviceable backup bank." The fact of the matter is if you merely get the stench of "starter" on you, even as a crappy starter, some team will pay you $7 million over three years to carry a clipboard.

2. The Colts future Anyone who listens to my show knows that, when the severity of the Manning injury was discovered, I was driving the "Colts need to tank and get Andrew Luck" bandwagon. I cited the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA as the model for the Colts -- remember in 1996-97 when David Robinson was injured? They ended up finishing near the bottom of the NBA, winning the 1997 lottery, and securing their future for the next 15 years by drafting Tim Duncan.

The parallels are all there for the Colts -- smaller market (yes, I know San Antonio has a big population, but it's a small sports market), injured face of franchise, said face of franchise is somewhat maligned for not winning the big one enough (or in Robinson's case, at all), face of franchise is solid guy in community, and LUCK heavily involved (for the Spurs, they won a lottery; for the Colts, the draftee's NAME is Luck.) Any talk of Manning coming back for a few games at season's end is stupid on so many levels -- his health, the health of the franchise, jersey sales, everything.   1. The integrity of the concept of a neutral field Super Bowl Um yeah...we probably don't need to worry about Lucas Oil Stadium being awash in Peyton Manning jerseys on February 5, 2012.

LOSERS

4. Reggie Wayne While many a receiver has come through Indianapolis and been a product of the Manning-centric system, Wayne has not been one of those guys. Just watch Reggie Wayne and you know he has skills. That's why it's so mindboggling to see Pierre Garcon (who is no stranger to a dropped pass) sitting at ninth in the league in receiving yards and Wayne sitting at 19th. Part of me feels bad for Wayne, but a much bigger part of me laughs at the look on his face every time Curtis Painter bounces a pass three feet behind him. It's the same look my dad would get on his face after I'd spill a pitcher of orange juice on the floor as a kid. Memories.

3. Dallas Clark This much you can say about Reggie Wayne -- at least he's still in the mix. Dallas Clark, a favorite target and security blanket for Peyton Manning, is 20th in receiving yards -- among tight ends. If you're under the age of thirty, you remember that Seinfeld episode where George was going on a date with a girl who thought he was very funny, and he didn't want to double with Jerry because next to a comedian, George wouldn't seem very funny. "If you're on the date, then what do I become? A short, bald guy with glasses who suddenly doesn't seem so funny." Well, without Peyton Manning, we're left to wonder what Dallas Clark has become -- a short, non-blocking tight end who suddenly doesn't seem so good.

2. Phil Simms Here's the latest twist to the whole Peyton Manning-Andrew Luck storyline. Ready? Here we go: It seems that Phil Simms, CBS analyst and father of NFL washout Chris Simms and horrific Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms, said that Andrew Luck, whose father Oliver Luck (like Simms) was also an NFL quarterback, was maybe a little overrated by scouts, and if the Colts had the first pick Simms thought that Manning, whose father Archie and brother Eli was and is (respectively) an NFL quarterback, would never allow them to make that pick. This prompted Phil Simms to text Peyton Manning to apologize for dragging him into the Andrew Luck saga (which by the way, Oliver Luck laughed at). Peyton Manning then said that he had no idea what Phil Simms was talking about because he doesn't watch, listen, or talk to him, even though his son Matt Simms plays quarterback at Tennessee, the same school at which Peyton Manning played in college.

Bottom line -- it appears we will be getting that three-way father/son Tables, Ladders, and Chairs tag team match at Wrestlemania this year with Andrew/Oliver Luck versus Archie/Peyton Manning (with Eli in their corner) versus Phil/Matt Simms (with Chris in their corner). The winner will get Chris Simms' spleen which will be hanging high above the ring. Expect outside interference from the Harbaugh brothers.

1. Tim Tebow I don't know why I felt like listing him here other than it seems to be fashionable to whack away at him this week. So there you go.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays from noon to 3 p.m., and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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