Santa, or in this case Irsay, could turn out to big a big fat b^$@& to most fans if Manning doesn't return. Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

What Peyton Manning Situation Means For Steelers Hines Ward

Peyton Manning has been with the Colts since 1998 and his whole career. That could all change in the very near future. Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

loyalty: /ˈloiəltē/

  1. The quality of being loyal to someone or something.
  2. A strong feeling of support or allegiance: “fights with in-laws cause divided loyalties”.
allegiance – fidelity – faithfulness – devotion – faith

Doesn’t seem like that word means much these days for just about any walk in life does it?  When it comes to the NFL, loyalty only goes about as far as your usefulness to an organization winning football games.  The Steelers have bucked that trend for almost its entire existence.  ‘Family first’ and ‘Take care of your own’ have been unofficial mottos for the Steelers and the Rooney family.  Lately, however, their seems to be a swerve away from that philosophy, and this little thing going on in Indy doesn’t make things look too promising for a certain Steeler wide out and fan favorite retaining his spot on the roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The series of events dating back to around this time last year up to now are quite intriguing to look at from the perspective of an Indianapolis Colt.  The rumor of Manning’s return being in serious question was getting more and more circulated and frequently brought up.  When the Colts went 0-4/0-5 people started talking draft and Andrew Luck’s name became as household as Samsung.  The drama just continued as the Colts season went down the toilet – what should have been a Super Bowl run in their own city quickly became the most disappointing season since the arrival of Indy’s Golden Child.  Manning tried to be a mentor on the sidelines, but nothing would help a team that was built for him.

The Colts cleaned house in their coaching staff, which did not sit well with Manning.  By then the Colts had locked up the #1 pick in the draft and everyone knew the inevitability that it will be Luck.  Manning could be a great mentor for Luck right?  However, Manning’s little shout out to his former coaches really raised the bar on where his situation really lies.  Headlines screamed out the gate that Manning could be leaving the Colts, etc etc etc.

If any of you think for even a second that Colts owner Jim Irsay is even sincere when he says he would love to have Peyton Manning back, then you need to go back to school… grade school… and learn that fine art of lying when you tell the teacher you won’t misbehave but then have every intention of doing the complete opposite.  Irsay’s politicking of this whole situation is pretty ridiculous.  To say that the ‘ball is in his court’ is insane.  Why not just come out and say ‘See ya Manning! Have a good 3 more years to your career!’  Can you imagine of Rooney came out and said ‘The ball is in Roethlisberger’s court if he wants to come back?’  That implicitly means: Restructure/take less money or get out because you aren’t the future anymore.  Steelers Nation would be in such and uproar…. but are Indy fans that upset over Manning’s sudden departure?  How do they feel about the guy who brought a Super Bowl title and many other years of success for this organization just go away?  He’s been the heart and soul of this team for years!  The Colts need to keep Hines Ward…. I mean Peyton Manning.

Alright, cats out of the bag.  If you couldn’t tell from the title of the post, this has more to do with Ward than with Manning.  Ward has had the same storied succeses (if not more) than Peyton Manning.  He’s been the heart and soul of this team for a long time and can still contribute in many positive ways to this team.  It’s uncharacteristic for the Rooney family to act in such a way if they let Ward loose.  Arty is just being another Jim Irsay – it’s about the business and value of a particular player.

We see the value in keep Ward as fans.  Not to mention the personal love we have for guys like him.  It’s hard to let go.  Ward isn’t worth the $4 mil.  But is he worth vet pay?  Absolutely.  But, the ways of the NFL are changing (or maybe becoming an extreme form of what it already was) and the word ‘loyalty’ is being erased from the vocabulary.

I feel the same is going to happen to Ward.  If the Colts can’t keep Manning on because Irsay is salivating over the prospects of acquiring Andrew Luck and saving a boat load of money by getting rid of Manning (and therefore, freeing money to sign a ton of guys they need), then what makes anyone think that Ward has a chance in staying in Pittsburgh?  Maybe I’m wrong…. I hope I’m wrong.

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  • dbuzard

    I would be (pretty much) ok if the the Steelers had to cut Ward for cap room. I think players understand business moves. But if the word is that he isn’t contributing, the team better do a WHAAAY better job of handling it than they have with things in the last 5 or 6 weeks.

  • craig.nicepickcowher

    @dbuzard The Steelers would be lying through their teeth if they said Ward wasn’t contributing enough to stay on the roster for one more year. I think it would be all business and all about money. I think it would be a dumb move, but that’s the way it is. Peyton’s situation though just holds a mirror to this whole process and how the business has evolved now.

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  • mitchitized

    @craig.nicepickcowher @dbuzard I’m not convinced that Ward can still contribute as a player, at least to a value on par with the veteran minimum that he would require (just south of $1M right?).

    He’s a good mentor and I have hopes that he can transition to the coaching ranks someday, but there’s a nagging voice that points out that the Steelers have an uncanny habit of getting rid of players at just the right time.

    On the flip side, I am unsure if his lack of production in 2011 was as much his fault, or the fault of the gameplan and playcalling. He’s always been slow, so what was the REAL reason for his precipitous drop in performance (and rank)?

  • SonnyDrysdale

    Ward wants 2 million to play, I don’t see them doing that. If he agrees to less they owe him the opportunity to come to Latrobe. They have a bigger need at TE, Heath can’t do it all. They should use the savings on Ward and sign a good blocking TE so Heath can catch more balls. Just watched some video of Michael Floyd @ ND . He will be a hybrid TE/WR and would look good in PGH

    Wont happen but it’s nice to dream