It is time for Peyton Manning to embrace the notion that his time in Indianapolis is over and prepare to join younger brother Eli in the city that never sleeps.
The Indianapolis Colts haven't released or traded the four-time MVP yet, but it's a foregone conclusion at this point. Most assumed the Colts would eventually release Manning after the team secured the first pick in the NFL Draft with the worst record in 2011, but all doubt was erased when Colts owner Jim Irsay opened his big mouth on Thursday.
Irsay just couldn't help but respond to comments Manning recently made to The Indianapolis Star, despite the fact the press conference was meant to introduce new coach Chuck Pagano.
He's a politician, Irsay said of the face of his franchise. When it comes to being competitive on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the highest, we're both 11s. There have been plenty of eggshells scattered around this building by him (Manning) with his competitive desire to win.
I don't think it's in the (best) interest to paint the horseshoe in a negative light, I really don't. . . . The horseshoe always comes first. One thing (Manning has) always known, and he's been around it so long, you keep it in the family. If you've got a problem, talk to each other. It's not about campaigning or anything like that.
In discussing the problem in public, Irsay is violating his own mandate to keep it in the family, but that's par for the course for the erratic, outspoken Colts owner.
The beginning of a public battle is the latest sign to show that this long relationship is done. It's time for Manning to start looking at his next options, as reluctant as he might be to do so, and it's hard to find a better one than the New York Jets.
The Jets present a very real chance for Manning to stick it to Irsay when he eventually releases the quarterback. The team missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record this year, but had advanced to the AFC Championship in the previous two years. The defense consistently ranks in the Top 10 in most categories, but can't make up for the anemic offense.
The Jets have repeated many times that Mark Sanchez is their quarterback of the future, but it's beginning to become doubtful that the Sanchize will ever guide the organization to a Super Bowl.
Sanchez managed to throw a career-high 26 touchdowns in 2011, but also threw 18 interceptions -- the fifth-most in the NFL -- which had a major impact on the Jets missing the playoffs. The quarterback also had issues with his receiving corps, especially star wide receiver Santonio Holmes, leading a few Jets to anonymously complain to the New York Daily News that the Jets would be better off with Manning.
We already have his coach - Tom Moore, one well-respected player told the Daily News. Plus, he's a field general and will get everyone lined up. He will get his playmakers the ball. We can win a Super Bowl with Peyton.
That's a hugely important issue for the aging Jets -- the ability to win a Super Bowl next year. The parity of the NFL teaches us that teams generally don't have huge windows to compete for a championship and the Jets' window might be winding down.
Since the Jets made their initial run to the AFC Championship in 2009 -- where they lost to Peyton's Colts -- the team has lost a significant amount of important cogs in the system. One of the most important factors, especially given all of the current chemistry issues, is that this team has lost a lot of leadership in the past two years.
Gone since 2009 are: running back Thomas Jones; fullback Tony Richardson; offense linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody; wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith; and defensive linemen Kris Jenkins and Shaun Ellis.
Not only did these players perform extremely well on the field, but helped behind-the-scenes in immeasurable ways. The team has gotten off track from where it needs to be and the only way to get back on track might be to sign Manning.
It would likely signal the end of the Sanchez era in New York and the organization would have to worry about Manning's health -- he missed the entire 2011 season due to neck surgeries -- but it's hard to turn down a sure-fire NFL Hall of Famer.
Come on. That's a no-brainer, a Jets source told the Daily News. If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning and you don't do it, then you're stupid. If I could get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning, then, hell yeah, I would trade Sanchez.
Some have already made the comparisons to the Jets experiment in 2008 with Brett Favre, but the situation is infinitely different. Manning is known as an extremely respectful, intelligent, player that is beloved by his teammates -- words no one would use to describe Favre.
If Manning is healthy -- which is a big if -- no one provides a better chance of winning the Super Bowl. Manning's attention to detail is second to none and it's hard to imagine the extremely successful quarterback being unable to get Holmes and the rest of the wide receivers on board, especially consider Holmes is the most likely culprit for the Daily News comments.
It not only makes a lot of sense from a football perspective for both, but also for off-the-field reasons. Adding Manning to the New York market would make the Jets and Giants the talk of the entire NFL all season -- something that Jets owner Woody Johnson surely realizes -- while also allowing big brother Peyton to spend some quality time with Eli.
Peyton has only stated a desire to return to Indianapolis, but his brother Eli has already warmed to the idea of being in the same city as his big brother.
It would be fun, Eli Manning recently told ESPN New York's 1050. We could probably commute to work maybe. We could come home, eat dinner together, have the kids playing ...
It would be interesting. I am not saying it is going to happen or I want it to happen, but to have your brother that close to you and playing in New York would be very unique.
Manning will certainly have a slew of different offers when he eventually is released -- the Redskins and Dolphins are expected to strongly pursue him -- but no situation is better than the Jets.
It gives him a chance to win immediately, which no other option seems to offer, and also be able to see his kid brother significantly more than he has in past years. It's not a dream scenario for a player that envisioned staying in one market his entire career, but Manning's competitiveness should enable him to realize it won't get any better than this.