Seeing iconic players perform in alien uniforms can be disorienting, if not absolutely eerie.
Johnny Unitas with the Chargers. Joe Montana with the Chiefs.
But I suspect fans in Seattle could quickly adjust to seeing Peyton Manning in Seahawks blue and green – or whatever those colors are.
It appears that Manning’s marriage to the Colts is on the rocks, and the four-time MVP quarterback could be on the open market soon while Indy prepares to draft Stanford’s Andrew Luck and retool for the future.
The Seahawks have the need for a quarterback and the available salary-cap room to make a serious run at Manning.
But should they?
His health is in question, and for a team in the process of rebuilding and apparently on the rise, the ideal situation would be to find a young talent who could grow with the team for the long haul.
But this is Peyton Manning, and the chance to get him – if healthy – should trump other options being studied.
Risk? Oh, heck yes. He might never get out of training camp. Hey, realistically, everybody who plays in the NFL is one bad hit from retirement. But a soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback who has had three neck surgeries in 19 months?
In September, Manning had a cervical neck fusion, which sounds like it’s only a few sizzling wires short of a Dr. Frankenstein procedure.
Word is that he has been cleared to play. But the long-term effects on nerves, and recovery of arm strength are all critical questions that might not be answered for months, even if the medicos give him the initial green light.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, at the end of last season, was asked his posture on drafting a young guy or bringing in a veteran. He talked about the ways in which young guys are now prepared to step from college into a starting quarterback and leadership role in the NFL.
It sounded as if he very much liked the idea of a kid coming in to challenge incumbent Tarvaris Jackson rather than collecting a veteran through trade or free agency.
And, who wouldn’t be skittish about putting a man with fused cervical vertebrae behind an offensive line that had four starters from last season need surgery, with three of them going on injured reserve and facing extended rehabs? On top of that, the tailback and fullback are both free agents.
But if full examination results in reasonable assurance of Manning’s return to health – even if something short of 100 percent – the potential reward could be immediate.
If he gets released by the Colts, he may be the most highly motivated player in the NFL next season. Not that motivation has been an issue for him.
Former Huskies and Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard played with Manning in Indianapolis, and has told stories about Manning that make it sound as if he prepares for every game about the way NASA preps for a moon launch.
And the man is about nothing but winning.
I remember an interview session with the Colts when they landed in Miami for Super Bowl XLI. One of the storylines was the Colts having restricted free time or access to their families during game week. Some of the players made it clear that it wasn’t a mandate from the coaching staff but from Manning, who was not about to tolerate anything less than full attention to duty.
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