Peyton Manning underwent a neck surgery known as cervical fusion on Thursday and will miss two to three months while he recovers. If that reported timeline is accurate, it's lines up perfectly, as we predicted earlier, with Mike Freeman's report that the Colts were prepping to lose Manning for half a season.
Of course, "two to three months" is all relative.
If it's two, that's half a season and you can see why Freeman's sources were concerned with that number. If it's three months, well, that's three-fourths of the season and any sort of delay in the recovery process would almost certainly put Manning out for the season.
However, though this is Manning's third surgery in the past 19 months, the team will keep him on the active roster, the Colts said.
Don't anticipate Indy confirming any timeline for Peyton's return, though. In fact, they confirmed that they will not be confirming that, although the team did acknowledge the surgery.
"As previously stated on Monday, Sept. 5th, Peyton Manning has undergone further testing and consultation with several specialists regarding his rehabilitation. The results of these tests and the consensus of the consultations was that further surgery was warranted," the Colts said in a statement released by the team. "Peyton has undergone this surgery today by having a single level anterior fusion. The surgery was un-eventful.
"This procedure is performed regularly throughout the country on persons from all walks of life, including professional football players. Two former Colts players had this same procedure last winter and have fully resumed their careers. Rehabilitation from such surgery is typically an involved process. Therefore, there will be no estimation of a return date at this time. We will keep Peyton on the active roster until we have a clearer picture of his recovery process."
The Manning surgery was originally reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who adds that "there is no word whether he'll be put on [injured reserve]." Mortensen also spoke with Archie Manning, the Colts quarterback's father.
"I think he's OK, probably because there's a little finality to this deal in terms of playing," Archie said. "He's been on the clock since May. He didn't make it. Obviously, it's a big letdown, but he can relax a little bit compared to the intensity of everything he has done trying to rehab."
Will Carroll of Sports Illustrated paints an even bleaker picture, noting that "if reports of cervical fusion are correct, this is potentially career ending." Carroll also notes that "two to three months is unbelievably aggressive for [this] procedure."
For those wondering why the timeline for Manning has been so vague this week, Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network reports that Peyton "has traveled all over the U.S. trying to find a solution for his cervical problem, the latest recommendation resulted in surgery today."
If that's the case, it certainly makes sense that, as we said earlier today, no one with the Colts actually knew what the deal with Manning was, because he was out there trying to find out what -- if any -- options were available for him from other medical professionals.
The secrecy that's surrounded this entire process has been baffling, almost to the point where it's hard to fathom how we got here. So private, in fact, that even Peyton's older brother Cooper wasn't aware of what was going on with the quarterback's injury.
"[Peyton] values his privacy even within a very tight family like we have," Cooper told ESPN. "We've exchanged some short texts and I've given him his space. He's had a lot going on."
Cooper's not the only one who has sounded out of the know when it comes to Peyton's surgery -- Jim Caldwell didn't have much of an answer on Thursday when reporters inquired about a status update on Manning, shortly before news broke of the surgery.
Of course, Caldwell now has a much bigger concern: can the Colts win without Peyton. Our own Pete Prisco would tell you the Colts are "done" and he has a valid point about Peyton's ability to cover up other problems on the roster. Mike Freeman argues that we shouldn't "kill the Colts yet" because Kerry Collins is at least "not horrible."
And Collins isn't horrible. But he's not Peyton Manning. Which is the harsh reality the Colts will face -- for the first time since 1998 -- come Sunday.
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