Peyton Manning was unable to continue his remarkable streak of starting games at QB for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Considerable thought needs to be given as to how his team should best move forward in his absence (especially considering the outcome of their game…). The likelihood of his return this year – perhaps ever – remains questionable.
Yet, he still scored points with me this weekend.
I read a column by David Steele of The Sporting News discussing the death of Hall of Fame TE John Mackey…and the possibility the way he had to spend his final years on Earth from playing football appearing to be irrelevant among the NFL’s current athletes.
Players may not be aware of Mackey’s post-career health issues and his wife’s subsequent hard work leading to the “88 Plan,” which received a funding increase as part of the recently negotiated NFL labor agreement. The league and union management demonstrated a stronger financial commitment towards the necessity of helping players post-career with brain traumas most often related to playing the game.
Sylvia Mackey indicated in late August, nearly two months after her husband passed away, “Only one active player has contacted me and sent something about John. Peyton Manning. He’s the only one.”
Steele noted after the recent memorial service for Mackey in Baltimore Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith revealed the union and NFL negotiators all signed a Mackey jersey as part of honoring him. Smith said when he first ran for the position in 2009 he told active players, “If they didn’t want to embrace their history, then I’m probably not the guy they want to elect. It became tremendously important to not only remind our players what our history was but also to teach them about what our debt needed to be.”
Sylvia Mackey – “I understand that when you’re young, it’s hard to imagine something like this. But it could be them one day.”
Peyton Manning obviously knew John Mackey’s history competing both on and off the field. First as a supremely talented player fighting for yardage, later as a former player just fighting for some quality of life.
Which brings us to Manning’s own predicament, one I am familiar with based on what we hear regarding his multiple neck surgeries and my own medical issue. The procedures described in reports on Peyton’s condition sound very familiar to consultations I have had over the last several years. I remain wary of surgery. Manning apparently has had three.
If what we are all hearing is true it is my opinion he should never play football again. Steele agrees.
As the only current player to reach out to Sylvia Mackey, at least we know one NFL athlete who will balance his ability to function post-career with the prospect of returning to the game.
Manning likely was weighing his options already when he communicated those condolences.