Jim Irsay is known for being a ‘rock star’ owner, in that he likes rock and roll and is under the impression he’s still 23. From being caught with his hat tilted to wearing ripped jeans while playing the guitar, most know Irsay as one of the more outlandish NFL owners todays. But Irsay does, on occasion, drop some serious insight into the inner-workings of the machine that is an NFL front office and today he let the world know that while it was sad Peyton Manning left last season, he was almost traded in his prime.
Irsay spoke to Indianapolis-Star reporter Bob Kravitz and told him that back in 2004, general manager Bill Polian came to him with an unprecedented idea: trading MVP quarterback Peyton Manning. Needless to say, the trade never happened and two years later the COlts hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Miami, but this is now going to be filed under the great What If scenarios of all-time.
But Kravitz isn’t spilling the beans on the whole interview he had with Irsay, which is now going to be read by virtually every after his brilliant Twitter tease about a proposed Manning trade in 2004. The real question we all have, among the millions that have been sparked by this little nugget of information, is what was Bill Polian’s reasoning behind trading Peyton Manning?
The obvious reason is that Manning’s rookie contract had expired and he was without a doubt the best quarterback in the NFL, coming off his first MVP trophy and looking like he was ready to win another (which he did). If you remember, the Colts were in a sticky situation, as they knew they had to pay Manning whatever he wanted but they also knew that would likely be close to Donovan McNabb’s $115 million contract from 2002.
Manning and the Colts settled at $99.2 million and the rest is history, but it’s truly a football nerds fantasy to imagine what the last decade would have looked like had Manning been traded to another team — which is obviously the second question: who would the Colts have traded Manning to.
From there, the endless portal of questions is forever opened and an alternate universe is forever fluid. We know what Manning looks like in another uniform, but how different would his career be had it happened 8 years prior?