If Indianapolis winds up with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Peyton Manning is OK with the team drafting Andrew Luck, Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian revealed on his weekly radio show Monday night.
Or did he?
"The bottom line is that if the right person is thereand it has to be the right personthen now is the time to make that choice," Polian said. "Peyton and I have spoken about that and he's OK with that."
There's a big difference between Manning proclaiming, "I'm totally fine with the Colts drafting Andrew Luck," and Polian declaring that Manning is in fact OK with it.
Manning is one of the most competitive players the league has ever seen, and unless he knows in his heart of hearts that he doesn't think he can play at an elite level again, I doubt that he would endorse the Colts drafting his immediate replacement.
The irony? When Luck was contemplating whether to enter the 2011 NFL Draft or return to Stanford for another season, it was Manning who advised Luck to return to school.
Manning had made the same decision 15 years prior.
In 1996, Manning finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy rankings and was presumed to be the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. He surprised everybody when he elected to return to Tennessee for his senior season.
Manning finished second in the 1997 Heisman voting (Charles Woodson), and his Volunteers fell to Nebraska 42-17 in the Orange Bowl.
Luck finished second in the Heisman voting a year ago, and led Stanford to a magical 12-1 season, culminating in an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
Like Manning in 1997, Luck was the consensus preseason favorite to win the Heisman this year, and despite Stanford's recent loss to Oregon, he is still a leading candidate.
Stanford's signal-caller is widely considered the most NFL-ready college quarterback since Manning in '98. If the Colts are on the clock with the No. 1 pick, they can't possibly pass up on him can they?
Manning, the NFL-record four-time MVP, is recovering from multiple offseason neck surgeries, and although the Colts are hopeful that he can return as early as this season, there is reason to believe that Manning may never be able to play again.
Without their Super Bowl-winning quarterback, the Colts are 0-10 in 2011. The last time they started a season 0-10? 1997 -- the year before they selected Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
After going 3-13 in his rookie season, the Colts have made the playoffs 11 of the past 12 seasons, including nine seasons in a row.
It seems as if the Peyton Manning Era is nearing an end in Indianapolis. It's only a matter of time before the Andrew Luck Era begins.
Apparently, Manning is okay with it.
Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller