"We didn't think either guy would've been there where we picked them," Irsay said. "So we were fortunate. I talked to Bill right before the draft and said, 'If we get a chance to get two offensive linemen that can be a foundation for Peyton the next five years, that would go a long way.' And I was joking with him before one or both picks, saying, 'Well you can hear what the ghost of [former New York Giants GM] George Young is whispering in our ears. He's saying, 'Take the tackle, take the tackle, take the tackle.'"
So they did. Good for them and better for Manning. The Colts did what was right and necessary, and they did it without hesitation -- which is why having two Polians is always better than having one.
"This is a very natural process," said Irsay, "and it's a seamless transition. No question, Chris is doing the heavy lifting and the details, but Bill is still involved in special projects on things I define or on things with the league.
The three biggest names on the NFLPA's suit against the owners are Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Manning. Brees and Brady have publicly defended the players. Manning is the only one who has been eerily silent, and we're now heavy into this court fight.
Manning has starred in more commercials than Marlon Brando, Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise combined. He's a walking ATM machine.
And for Manning, that's what his silence is about -- sweet cash. He's willing to take only so much of a stance and jeopardize his standing as America's football good guy and bankable commercial star. Brees doesn't seem to care, and agree or disagree with his position, he's as principled a man as I've ever met. Other players have risked the long-term ire of fans, including Jay Feely, Mike Vrabel, and Osi Umenyiora, among many others, doing so knowing taking a public stance could potentially cost them among a divided fan base.
Manning has more to lose. Understood. Yet his silence on the lockout despite being one of the named litigants is starting to seem odd. More than odd. It's starting to look like Manning either no longer cares or disagrees with the path the former union is taking.
I find this position curious. Manning has been unusually quiet, that's for sure, but to draw a straight line from his silence to a sudden change of heart about the labor fight is a stretch. Manning put his name on the case. He was criticized for not showing up for the first hearing. Turns out his wife was about to have twins. Quite honestly, the combination of the kids and his unsettled contract situation seem like good enough reasons for Manning to be silent.
Fans do not care when players refuse to talk to the media. Manning showed up and did a kids function. He's running and paying for practices when he's not getting paid for it and is not under contract. Choosing not to talk to the media seems like a minor offense indeed when placed in the larger context of his life and career. The idea that he'd hurt his marketability if he stuck his neck out on labor is laughable. Drew Brees hasn't hurt his marketability at all. This strikes me as a convenient answer that doesn't fit the facts.
Manning showed up for the talks earlier in the year. Jerry Richardson's comments to him became national news. He became a focal point of the discussion in Judge Nelson's ruling. To suddenly claim that he's bailing on the players because he's not doing interviews just doesn't add up. If Manning talks about the suit, he'd have to address his contract. Then he'd have to say, "I want to be a free agent, and the owners' wont' let me" (which is what the lawsuit suggests), or he'd say, "I want to be a Colt for life". Either way, he undermines either the lawsuit or his relationship with the fans.
Silence is the only option. He wants the suit to succeed, but he wants to be a Colt. Perhaps the only way to protect both ends is to say nothing at all. If Manning alienates the fans by supporting the claims of Brady v NFL, he hurts the NFLPA. If he states he wants to be a Colt forever, he hurts the NFLPA. He can't win either way. He can't talk about the lockout without addressing his contract, and he can't address his contract without hurting the NFLPA.