Could Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts produce sports’ next huge breakup?
“All the world’s a stage,” a pretty fair playwright named Bill Shakespeare once assured us. Elite athletes are attracted to that stage, and rabid sports fans drop big money to watch what happens on that stage, since it represents “such stuff as dreams are made on.” But with a fabulous Super Bowl behind us, “the winter of our discontent” is upon us, and part of our focus shifts to the inevitably ugly business side of sports.
In Indianapolis, will mercurial Colts owner Jim Irsay pony up the $28 million roster bonus due rehabbing franchise quarterback Peyton Manning on March 8? In Orlando, will the never-ending drama over peerless center Dwight Howard and his nearly $20 million price tag lead to his exit? What to make of these shenanigans? Vent anger and frustration: “A plague on both your houses”? Or lament the inevitability of a split that once seemed so perfect: “Parting is such sweet sorrow”?
|Slideshow: Sports’ ugliest breakups|
The Colts as a franchise certainly have had plenty of experience with Hamlet-esque turmoil, going back to when the team was located in Baltimore. While they will use the No. 1 pick to select Andrew Luck in April’s draft to succeed Manning, back in 1983 their plan to take the last pro-ready quarterback out of Stanford backfired spectacularly.
John Elway insisted that he’d rather play baseball than putting on the horseshoed helmet, and after the Colts figured out that he wasn’t bluffing, Elway was traded to the Denver Broncos. Despite not having played a single down for the Colts, Elway nevertheless earned eternal enmity from the Colts franchise and fans alike as he went on fulfill his promise in the Mile High City.
But the Colts were the beneficiaries of another ugly breakup just a few years later. After constantly haggling with Rams management throughout his career, all-pro running back Eric Dickerson finally had had enough and wanted out of L.A. He arrived in Indy with much fanfare and helped solidify the team’s presence in its new home until Peyton Manning showed up a decade later.
Most ugly breakups were the result of contract squabbles, but a few were really personal. In 1995, at the height of his career as possibly the best goalie in the history of the NHL, Patrick Roy was so incensed that he was left in while getting shelled by the Red Wings that he immediately went to the GM when he was finally pulled. His message: “I’ve played my last game in Montreal.”
He did. Roy was traded four days later to the Colorado Avalanche. Those two franchises never were the same.
Recently, we’ve witnessed this sort of nastiness between Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and going way back, even Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Will we see the Colts-Manning clash and the Magic-Howard dustup descend into the gutter?
“O, what men dare do!” We can’t know. So whatever is “to be, or not to be,” here’s a look at the ugliest breakups in sports.
The top five:
5. Manny Ramirez/Boston Red Sox
4. Patrick Roy/Montreal Canadiens
3. Shaquille O’Neal/Los Angeles Lakers
2. Jackie Robinson/Brooklyn Dodgers
1. Marcus Allen/Los Angeles Raiders
• See the rest of the list