Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said the team’s decision to release quarterback Peyton Manning wasn’t a “no-brainer” based on conversations the former coach had with owner Jim Irsay at the time. With Manning now healthy and leading the unbeaten Denver Broncos and a record-setting offense into Indianapolis on Sunday night Dungy said Irsay would have kept the quarterback if the owner thought the scenario would play out this way. “I can almost guarantee you if (Irsay) knew (Manning) was going to be healthy like this and playing this kind of football in hindsight I don’t think he would have done it” Dungy said in a conference call to promote NBC’s telecast of Sunday night’s game. Dungy a studio analyst for NBC’s “Football Night in America” said the Colts made the right decision based on the information at the time. There was uncertainty about Manning’s neck issues which required four surgeries as well as the opportunity for the Colts to use the No. 1 overall pick on quarterback Andrew Luck. But Dungy remembered how Irsay agonized about it. “I can tell you that it was not a no-brainer” Dungy said. “I was on the phone with Jim Irsay probably five or six times over the course of maybe a month as it was leading up to that (decision). “He knew all the factors. ... Jim also had a great deal of loyalty. Jim was a young boy when his dad (Robert) traded Johnny Unitas so he knew the ramifications of those types of decisions. And he also knew how much Peyton had done for the city of Indianapolis for that franchise.” Before the March 2012 decision to part with the four-time NFL MVP doctors advised Irsay that Manning might never be healthy again. The owner realized an aging quarterback would be a tremendous risk. “The health issue was the big thing” Dungy said. Analyst Cris Collinsworth of NBC agreed with Irsay’s decision. “Given the health uncertainty of Peyton Manning at the time I would have done exactly what Jim Irsay did” Collinsworth said.
Tony Dungy says Manning would still be with Colts if Irsay had known he would be healthy again
Indianapolis Star | Oct 15