Peyton Manning is back.
The famed quarterback has received medical clearance to resume his career, according to Dr. Robert Watkins, the Los Angeles-based specialist who performed Manning's spinal fusion surgery.
Peyton Manning underwent a thorough medical re-evaluation as part of a postoperative visit with his surgeon, said a spokesman for Watkins on Thursday night in an email to various media outlets. As a result of this examination, Manning is medically cleared to play professional football.
The only hurdle left for Manning before he returns to the field is strengthening his arm and working in rehab to repair the nerve damage that remains from the surgery.
The real question remaining is where Manning will play next season, as it looks increasingly unlikely that he will be a member of the Colts.
After 1 a.m. Friday morning, Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted, Peyton has not passed our physical nor has he been cleared to play for The Indianapolis Colts, in an attempt to rebut surfacing reports that Manning had been cleared to play.
Irsay has several good reasons to cutt ties with Manning, despite the quarterback's illustrious career.
If Manning is still on the Colts' roster on Mar. 8, he is owed a $28 million dollar option bonus that will activate in the last four years of the five-year, $90 million dollar extension he signed before last season.
The Colts also have the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and most league insiders are predicting that the team will draft Stanford's Andrew Luck with that pick. Luck has already been anointed as the next great NFL quarterback.
Manning and Irsay plan to discuss their issues after the Super Bowl on Sunday, meaning if Manning is cut, it could happen as soon as Monday afternoon. However, teams would not be able to make him an offer until the free agency period begins on Mar. 13.
The Cardinals and Jets seem to make the most sense as potential suitors for Manning given that he will not choose a team that doesn't have a realistic chance to compete for the Super Bowl.