Jim Irsay & Peyton Manning: The Dating Game


There’s no such thing as a “good breakup.” We’d like to think it’s possible, that, “Of course we can still be friends,” but the reality is, it’s not.

Just ask Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay.

Despite having a blissful 14-year relationship in Indianapolis that included a NFL-record nine straight trips to the postseason, seven straight 12-win seasons, two Super Bowl appearances, and a Super Bowl win in 2006 (not to mention 4 MVP awards for Manning), the now Broncos quarterback and the current Colts owner can never be close again. They broke up on that melancholy day last March, and there’s no way they’re ever getting back together.

Like, ever.

(My apologies for the Taylor Swift reference)

Although it’s been hyped by the media, there’s nothing all that special about the comments Jim Irsay recently made regarding Peyton’s tenure as a Colt. Unnecessary? Yes. But unusual? No.

It’s typical of exes, a normal cycle. After a breakup, you avoid your ex at all costs. While you want them to be happy – and clearly, both sides here are, with Manning playing the best football of his career and the Colts reaching the playoffs in their first year with a new franchise quarterback – deep down you really don’t want them to be happier than you are.

Well, that’s going to happen on Sunday, when the Colts play the Broncos for the first time since Manning’s departure. One team is going to win, and one team is going to lose. One side is ultimately going to be happier than the other Sunday night. And the whole evening is going to be very awkward.

Running into your ex in a public setting is one of the most uncomfortable situations we can put ourselves in, especially when both sides are now seeing other people (see, Andrew Luck and John Fox). We’ve all been there.

The relationship drama goes on. Jim Irsay is planning a tribute to Manning for before kickoff, which will feature appearances by some of Manning’s best former teammates, including Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James. This is Irsay’s method of making himself out to be the good guy, but is the effort truly genuine, or is it a ploy to distract Manning, to affect him emotionally before the game, to make the game out to be bigger than it is, so Manning chokes (Good luck with that. No one wants to give Peyton Manning any more motivation than he already has)?

C’mon now, everyone has thought about plotting revenge on an ex before.

It’s like an immature schoolyard argument. Everyone is taking sides, from Colts media members, to Bill Polian (who was also targeted in Irsay’s comments), to Tony Dungy, John Fox, and even Todd Helton. Jim Irsay is backtracking on his comments, and Manning is keeping quiet (If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all). It’s reminiscent of how your friends come to defend you after a breakup and let you know that you’re “better off without him.”

Once a relationship turns sour, we forget about the good times. It’s safe to say that the city of Indianapolis would not have Lucas Oil Stadium, be a Super Bowl host city, or even have a football team within its city limits if it weren’t for Manning. Manning’s homecoming without a doubt stirs up many mixed emotions for players, coaches, and fans alike, and there’s no telling how exactly everyone will feel and act when the Colts and Broncos kick their game off Sunday night.

One thing I do know is that this pre-game relationship feud between Irsay and…well, himself, and everyone coming to Manning’s defense…is sillier than a high school breakup. Irsay’s comments were uncalled for. Now’s not the time. Not only are they harmful to Manning, but they are also harmful to the Colts’ current quarterback Andrew Luck, an aspect to this debate that has been vastly overlooked. The sophomore QB has enough on his plate as it is taking on perhaps the greatest quarterback in the history of the game and the most high-powered offense in the AFC. He doesn’t need any extra pressure or media attention. Let’s focus on what Sunday is really all about: a football game.

Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay are never getting back together.

At least, not until Manning is retired and both the Colts and Broncos earn themselves some new rings.