THIBODAUX, La. — The power and accuracy with which Peyton Manning’s passes bowl over bad guys in a recent “Football Cops” TV spoof was nowhere to be seen at the Manning family’s annual football camp.
After not making any throws during Friday morning’s instructional sessions, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback stressed that he is taking a “very cautious” approach to his comeback from offseason neck surgery because of the NFL lockout.
“That’s one thing these owners didn’t take into account. You’ve got a guy rehabbing and you can’t use your training room and can’t use your trainer,” Manning said. “When you find a good trainer and a good rehab guy that you like, it’s a pretty special bond. These guys kind of know your body. So the fact that I haven’t had access to my guys and I’ve been somewhat on my own, I’ve been extra cautious and extra slow and making sure we don’t have any setbacks.”
Manning’s father, former Saints quarterback Archie Manning, mentioned that Peyton has been throwing at some of the offseason workouts he has organized with Colts teammates in recent months. However, Peyton Manning declined to get into specifics about his condition, stressing only that he has been “very, very limited as to what I’ve been able to do and what I’ve allowed myself to do.”
Manning said he usually puts himself through three rehabilitation sessions per day and even got one in Friday morning before camp started.
Lockout or not, this has been another busy offseason for the Mannings, who got together on the campus of Nicholls State for the 16th year of the Manning Passing Academy. On March 21, Giants quarterback Eli Manning became a father for the first time when his wife, Abby, had their first child, a daughter named Ava. Only 10 days later, Peyton and his wife, Ashley, had twins — a daughter, Mosley, and son, Marshall.
Peyton Manning has avoided speaking publicly about his new experience as a father or the twins, and reiterated at the camp that he views those matters as private.
When asked if the lockout had a good side in terms of the time he got to spend with his infant children, Peyton said, “The lockout hasn’t been good for anybody, I don’t think. The only winners in the lockout have been the lawyers.”
Archie Manning beamed when he spoke about seeing his and wife Olivia’s number of grandchildren grow from the three they had from eldest son, Cooper, to six this year.
“We doubled our grandchildren, so Olivia and I are very excited,” Archie Manning said. “Cooper’s three we see every day. … I’m back going to little league games and everything. But for Eli and Peyton both to have their first children — Peyton had two at a time — it’s always exciting. I love grandchildren. It’s underrated.”
In May, Peyton and Eli also filmed a TV spot for DirecTV in Brooklyn, a dark comedy about a tandem of police officers who fight criminals with holstered footballs. It was released last month and as of this week had been viewed more than 792,000 times on the website YouTube.
Both brothers have organized workouts with teammates in an effort to stay as sharp as possible until football resumes.
Peyton has kept sessions with Colts teammates private, while Eli has allowed media to observe some of his sessions with Giants receivers, as well as walk-throughs with larger numbers of teammates.
“The guys I called came and worked out and we had some good throwing sessions,” Eli said. “We had a week of some full-team (work). … It was really kind of more for the young guys … so when we hit training camp we don’t have to start from square one.”
Although negotiations between owners and players appear to be progressing, it remains unclear whether training camps will open as scheduled in late July.
Peyton Manning, who is one of the players on a class-action antitrust lawsuit intended to end the work stoppage, said he has tired of following the daily negotiations.
“I followed it early and it just got so exhausting because every day was the day it was supposed to end, and that was like three months ago,” he said. “I’ve gotten to the point now where I’ve just told (Colts center and players’ representative) Jeff Saturday to call me when I can go back to the facility … I have no information or insight as to when it’s going to end.
“I don’t think it’s going to be this week, but hopefully it will be real, real soon.”
When the lockout does end, Peyton Manning and the Colts will likely get back to contract talks. His contract expired after last season, and the Colts put the exclusive franchise tag on him — a move that prevents him from negotiating with other teams. If he signs the one-year deal, he would make $23 million next season. Both sides appear more interested in reaching an agreement on a longer-term extension, but Manning does not appear interested in discussing the matter much.
“I really haven’t had a whole lot of thought on that,” he said. “They’ll be a time and a place to address that once the lockout ends, among other questions.”