Wisch: It’s Time For Peyton Manning To Call It A Career

By Dave Wischnowsky –

(CBS) He owns the most 4,000-yard passing seasons of any quarterback in NFL history, already has a Super Bowl ring on his finger and is the only player ever to win four MVPs.

Fox Sports has named him the NFL’s Player of the Decade, the NFL Network has named him the eighth-best player of all-time, and SI.com has named him as the guy who earned a whopping $38,070,000 in salary and endorsements.

In 2011 alone.

So, tell me, what more does Peyton Manning have to play for?

On Thursday evening it was revealed that Manning has received medical clearance to return to the NFL from the California surgeon who performed his spinal fusion procedure on Sept. 8.

Hours later, however, Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay fired off a 1:25 a.m. tweet that read: “Peyton has not passed our physical nor has he been cleared to play for The Indianapolis Colts.” Irsay’s late-night missive made it sound increasingly likely that Manning and the only NFL franchise that he’s ever known are headed for a less-than-amicable split.

The thing I can’t really understand, though, is why Peyton isn’t just headed for retirement instead. Especially when he and his family already know the risks involved with spinal issues and football all too well.

In 1992, Peyton’s elder, but lesser-known brother, Cooper, discovered those risks at just the age of 18 when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes pressure on the spinal cord.

At the time, the 6-foot-4 Cooper was an all-state wide receiver for Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans and headed to play at Ole Miss, where his dad first launched the Manning family legend. Instead, though, due to his medical condition, Cooper’s football career ended before it ever even really began.

This week, the New York Daily News conducted a Q&A with Cooper, who’s gone on to have a successful career at Howard Weil, an energy investment banking firm based in New Orleans and Houston. During the interview, he was asked if Peyton’s neck conditions are at all similar to those that he experienced as a teen.

“No, not at all. Unrelated,” Cooper said.

The Daily News then asked, “It’s not anything that runs in the family?” To which, Cooper simply replied: “Correct.”

Now, I’m not going to argue with Cooper if he says that Peyton’s neck condition isn’t something genetic, even if I’ve long suspected that it is. Spinal issues experienced by two of three sons in one family does seem like quite the coincidence to me. But, even if it that’s all it is – a coincidence – it still seems that Cooper’s history should have long ago showed Peyton that it’s unwise to stick one’s neck out too far.

Especially when you don’t have to at all.

Consider just what the soon-to-be 36-year-old Peyton Manning is. Taking into account the self-afflicted PR wounds suffered by the likes of LeBron James and Tiger Woods, Peyton – with his “aw, shucks” charm, good sense of humor and great sense of timing – is arguably the most marketable athlete in sports today.

His future off the field couldn’t be brighter, whether he decides to take up coaching, broadcasting or simply relaxing. During his surefire Hall of Fame career, the guy’s done it all and he’s won it all. He truly has nothing left to prove to anyone, and that should include himself.

So, why then is he still thinking about risking everything?

I understand that Peyton could still earn millions more by playing additional seasons of football. I get it that he’s an intensely competitive guy. But none of that is a good reason for risking a potentially catastrophic spinal injury on the football field, which could cost him future millions and remove him from life’s competition.

This isn’t a knee condition we’re talking about, after all.

It’s a neck.

This week, the Daily News asked Cooper if he’s concerned that Peyton’s career is over. He answered: “I’m not. Peyton’s body is going to answer all the questions. He’s a smart guy. He is going to do what’s right.

“If he can play and play to the ability he thinks is good enough to be competitive, he will out there and be fine. He’s not going to do anything where the doctors say ‘you are in serious jeopardy, don’t do it,’ and then go be reckless. He’s going to listen to the doctors and listen to his body and make the right decision.”

When it comes to his health and his future, I think the right decision is already quite clear.

Beyond that, some reasons why people have always liked about Peyton Manning is that he hasn’t ever been a diva, hasn’t fled from his fate like a madman and hasn’t treated the public’s emotions as his personal plaything.

Not like another legendary quarterback we all know. And with that in mind, my final bit of friendly advice to Peyton Manning is this:

Brett Favre is finally retired.

Don’t become the new Brett Favre.

davewisch Wisch: It’s Time For Peyton Manning To Call It A Career

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.

  • nwvotes

    Peyton Manning has been cleared to play. Do you think he will return to glory or struggle to get back to where he was before the injury? Vote at Nationwidevotes.com

  • Stanger

    Glad you know more than the guy who did the surgery and just said he can play without an abnormal risk of re-injury.

  • Devin Hesters Brain

    Telling Manning he should stop playing football is like telling you to stop writing these god-awful blog posts…Neither is going to happen so why waste the time?

  • Ryan

    Dave, have you considered that Peyton wants to play because it is fun for him? We all know he has won every award and had made a large amount of money in the process, but maybe the reason why he wants to continue playing is because he still enjoys it. Sure he risks re-injury, but so does every player that steps on the field. The difference between Favre and Manning is that you can argue Peyton is still at or near his prime. Favre’s last few years were years of not-so good football. If Peyton comes back next year he will probably still be a top 5 quarterback.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Most players want to play until they truly cannot.
    If Archie, Olivia and Peyton’s wife urge him to quit…that’s one thing.
    But if PM wants to play, he will (just not in Indy).

  • http://www.hdsmokecig.com/uconn-coach-jim-calhoun-taking-leave-of-absence-because-of-spinal-stenosis-20904 UConn coach Jim Calhoun taking leave of absence because of spinal stenosis | HDSmokeCig.com

    […] Wisch: It's Time F&#959r Peyton Manning T&#959 Call It A Career In 1992, Peyton's elder, b&#965t lesser-known brother, Cooper, discovered those risks &#1072t &#1112&#965&#1109t th&#1077 age &#959f 18 wh&#1077n h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 diagnosed w&#1110th spinal stenosis, a narrowing &#959f th&#1077 spinal canal th&#1072t causes pressure &#959n th&#1077 spinal cord. At th&#1077 time, th&#1077 6-foot-4 … Read more &#959n CBS Local […]

  • Wes

    Another awful article. He doesn’t play for records or money, he plays because he loves the game. If you are that worried about safety, shouldn’t you write an article that all football players should retire given the risk of concussions, CTE, and the early death that results from this sport? Football players know the risk every play, but still do it because they love it. And who are you to suggest when another man should stop doing what he loves. And don’t ever compare him to Brett Farve who just cared about himself and loved the attention he got every year.

  • Tom Arrow

    Not a bad article so much as just a little over opinionated. I liked watching Peyton play and I liked his commercials! If he can’t play anymore then I look forward to seeing him on ESPN with the “Guys” or on CBS with Dan Marino, who’s of the same calibre.

  • J-Dubya

    I learned during this last week that one of the main reasons why the NFL finally started to address concussions has nothing to do with the NFL players. It has to do with the fact that serious and fatal injuries to high school and younger football players are up so significantly that it was traced back to the “toughness” of NFL players. That because NFL players play through concussions, younger players are following them.

    What the NFL needs more than anything is for a player to step up and say, “I’m in my prime, but this injury is too severe. I cannot risk my life to continue playing this game.” Obviously I would only want that to happen if it were true.

    I don’t know if PM should retire or not over this. He did sit out an entire season. And I don’t think for a second that a team would sign him without being 100% certain that this won’t kill him. I just hope that if he does retire that it makes a difference with younger kids.

    The only thing that he has left to prove is that he can leave the game on his own terms. That is a powerful thing for a professional athlete.

    And, by the way everyone, THIS IS A BLOG! It is SUPPOSED to be opinionated. You might disagree with Dave, BUT THAT’S THE POINT!

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