Archie Manning at the Maxwell Awards on Friday afternoon. (Clyde Griffith)
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Calling him a "big boy," Archie Manning said on Friday afternoon that he anticipates that son Peyton Manning will be able to return to the NFL and play in the 2012 season, having recently seen his son throw the ball with "no setbacks."
This lines up with a recent report by Albert Breer of the NFL Network, in which it was revealed that Peyton's arm strength, at this point the most crucial part of his recovery process, is definitely improving.
Peyton, who has had four neck surgeries in the last two seasons, and missed last year due to those surgeries and the nerve impingements resulting from them, has been rehabbing for several months. Speaking from the Maxwell Awards in New Jersey on Friday afternoon, Archie Manning vowed that his son is ready to play football again.
"What I've seen he certainly looks fine as far as throwing and velocity on the ball," he said from the Maxwell Awards press conference. "He hasn't had any setbacks throwing. He's been throwing for two months and has four or five [months] to go before the season starts.
"The good news as a parent is when the doctors cleared him. The [neck] fusion was successful and they cleared him to play. He hasn't had any setbacks and is throwing the football."
With the Colts expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck first overall in April's NFL draft, it's starting to look as if Indianapolis will no longer be Peyton's place. Manning is due a $28 million option bonus next week and it looks like his 14-year stay with the Colts is coming to an end - unless he and the Colts choose to extend the deadline, or they renegotiate, or the Colts simply choose to take a $28 million risk.
Archie Manning said Peyton and Colts owner Jim Irsay have a "special relationship" and he feels "they always will."
"I think Peyton is just getting through this day-to-day. I think all Peyton knows to do is work. We'll see what happens," Archie Manning said. "He understands the whole situation and I think he knows all he can do is get his health back. He wants to play some more football and be ready to play."
But right now, Archie's major concern is Peyton getting healthy and being able to take the field again. Given his own 14-year career with the New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings, Archie Manning knows the inherent risks better than most.
"I have faith in God," he said. "I know Peyton has over the last couple of years seen four of the top neurosurgeons in America. As a father, that's what I feel good about. He's been involved with the right people. One of them did the surgery, now they cleared him to play.
"His neck is no different than any player's out there. It's a danger to anyone. That's football. As parent[s], we feel good [about] where he's at."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.
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