Kravitz sat down with Manning recently. Manning has always seemed to like Kravitz and is usually fairly candid with him. He sounds disappointed about the firings (not surprising) and says that he will sit down with Irsay and not Grigson when deciding his future (not surprising either). This is a pretty good piece.
Sorry, Rob Lowe.
Peyton Manning is not retiring, at least not any time soon.
"I never thought 'Sodapop Curtis' would announce my retirement," Manning said, laughing, referring to Loweís character in the 1983 movie "The Outsiders." "I always thought I would be the one to announce it. I'm a huge fan of the movie, but that caught me way off guard. I can't explain it. I know he (Lowe) is a friend of Jim's (Irsay), and Jim sounded surprised."
So no, Manning isn't on the cusp of retirement. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with The Star on Monday night, the Colts' future Hall of Fame quarterback addressed a number of pressing topics, including his health, his sadness over the firings of several coaches, his minimal relationship with new general manager Ryan Grigson and the future.
For the record, Manning and Grigson finally met, briefly, last week when the two ran across each other in the facility.
"One thing he (Grigson) kind-of, sort-of told me, without really wanting to tell me, was that Irsay will be the guy I'm going to sit down and talk with," Manning said. "That's going to happen at some point, but we haven't had that conversation yet because we really don't need to have that conversation yet."
Aside from Eli Manning's victory in the NFC title game in San Francisco, where Peyton was present to celebrate with his brother, this has been a rough week for Peyton --- and for a lot of the people who've made this one of the most successful organizations in sports over the years. Change is never easy.
"I'm not in a very good place for healing, let's say that," he said, referring to the practice facility. "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."
Manning didn't express anger about the firing of Jim Caldwell and so many assistant coaches as much as he expressed sadness, wistfulness even.
He was working out with strength and conditioning coach Jon Torine last week when word came down that Torine had been relieved of his duties. One day later, after Torine had cleaned out his office, he ran Manning one more time, for old time's sake.
"It was tough," Manning said. "Very emotional."
It's been difficult with all the coaches, many of whom have been with Manning since the beginning, or at least close to it. This franchise has been a model of stability and continuity; now it's all about change. When Manning hasn't been rehabilitating, he's been calling other franchises and offering recommendations on behalf of the departed coaches.
"One of the things about football is, it's a relationship business," Manning said. "Sometimes guys get fired, it goes across the ticker, 'Jim Caldwell got fired' and that's that. But when it's every day in a relationship business ... with Bill (Polian), with Marvin (Harrison), Edge (James), guys who retire, get cut, traded or fired, it's just really hard. I donít think I have an emotion for it.
"The new (management) team doesn't have a relationship with these guys like I do, and I know a lot of players feel that way about them (the departing coaches), too."
"I mean, it's 20 degrees, it's snowing, the building is absolutely empty except when you see coaches cleaning out their offices," he said. "I guess it's the reality of the football world, just not something I've had to deal with very often. But I'm in there every day, so I have to sit there and see it. Everybody's being evaluated and I'm no different. It's not the best environment.
"I just want to pay tribute to all those guys. It's unfortunate because so many of them have been such a big part of so many big wins here, and this is so ... sudden. Their keys didn't work the next day. There's no other way to do it? I donít know. That's hard to see, all these people leaving.
"And I may be behind them. Who knows?"
The question was posed: Given all the changes, the fact the Colts appear to be in a rebuilding mode, does Manning even want to come back to Indianapolis?
"I don't want to get into some kind of fan campaign with the owner, but I think it's well documented that I want to play in the same place my whole career," Manning said. "It's been a privilege to play here. I love the fans, the city, the transformation of the fans, how our place has become the toughest stadium to play in, the fact our fans wear more jerseys to games than anybody else. It's been fun to be a part of that.
"But I understand how it works. I understand tough decisions have to be made. There's personal and there's business and that's where weíve got to separate the two. I've seen other guys leave places and it was personal. I've invested too much into this city for that to happen. We live here, we've given lots of time and money to the community and our church, and that's never going to change Nothing changes that.
"Whatever happens, happens. I can't give you a prediction because Jim (Irsay) and I will sit down at some point and he'll get a feel for where I am and Iíll get a sense of what direction he wants to go. Right now, I have no idea."
As for Manningís health, he's not all the way back yet, but he's not going to put any kinds of percentages on his recovery, nor will he predict whether he'll be at full strength by early March, when the $28 million option bonus is due. At this point, he just doesn't know.
"You've been around me: You know I don't like to say something like, 'Thereís no way I can play Sunday,' then come out and play Sunday and everybody in the media is writing 'I canít believe heís playing,'" Manning said. "I'm not into the drama. And I'm not into saying, 'Well, this is it, I sure have enjoyed it.' I'm not into saying goodbye. All I know is I'm still under contract to the Colts. I'm still the quarterback of the Colts That's why I'm in the building every day trying to get healthy."
Manning continues to work out daily and throw to his beloved and overworked equipment guys, but this past Sunday, he got out of the facility. After watching the first two Giants' playoff games from the workout room, Peyton decided to surprise Eli and show up Sunday in San Francisco.
I asked if he told Eli it was his job to protect his Lucas Oil Stadium turf from the hated Patriots.
"Well, I've already gone to work for him, getting all my teammates, trying to get their two-ticket allotments," Manning said. "That's what he did for me two years ago and I did that for him four years ago. And I'm helping any way I can, getting him restaurant reservations around town for him and his teammates. Jim (Irsay) called after the game and offered any kind of help he could give, which was generous.
ďAs far as helping him with the Patriots, really, he doesn't need to talk to me. He played them seven weeks ago. We'll talk about things they do when you face them a second time in the same year, but he knows them better than I do right now.
"It was fun Sunday, we talked about third and long situations, the defense San Francisco likes to play. Theyíve got (former Colts defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio, and we were saying, 'In this situation, they run this particular coverage, three rushing and eight in coverage, and there are only certain places you can throw it.' I didn't tell him to throw that post route on the touchdown, but that was the kind of defense he was seeing. So it's kind of fun to talk about that stuff.í"
Now, then, Manning will try to enjoy the Super Bowl madness, will continue to work out at the facility (until the team is kicked out to make way for the, gag, Patriots) and wait to see what unfolds in the front office. If and when the Colts are ready to talk --- likely in February --- Manning will be easy to find.
"I'm in the facility every day," he said. "I'm right there. They know where to find me."
When it's time to make an announcement one way or the other, Manning hopes he can do it on his own terms.
"Hopefully, Sodapop Curtis doesn't tweet it before I can say anything," he said.