The South Florida media has been buzzing ever since Peyton Manning’s surgeon released a statement “clearing” Peyton to play. Slow down. Pump the brakes.
Let’s ignore for a moment the logistics of the cap hit the team would take (likely between $13-16 million for the season, or more if it is an incentive based deal), and focus on his so-called clean bill of health.
Peyton’s neck has healed. The fusion in his C7 vertebrae was a success. It’s now sturdy, and the bone has re-grown around the fusion. It may even be stronger than it was before.
That’s fantastic. But, his arm has a long way to go.
Peyton’s problem isn’t his neck. His whole injury post-surgery has been about the damaged C7 nerve root that extends from his fused vertebrae to his triceps. Peyton has nerve damage that has severely weakened his throwing arm. Nerve regeneration, along with muscle strengthening and re-education, is glacially slow. That’s why there has been, and continues to be, so much uncertainty about his injury ever since the beginning.
I had a similar neck fusion in 2010. Like Peyton, it took a full year for the fusion to heal and for my neck to be “cleared”. My neck is now strong as steel, which is expected after a fusion. But the nerve damage is still so severe, my arm is extremely limited. This weakness is what Peyton is experiencing on a much smaller scale.
All I hear on Miami talk radio is a general clamoring, “Peyton’s ready to play! His doctor said so! Get him down here!”.
Keep that talk on hold.
I would love to see Peyton in Dolphin teal for a few seasons grooming a replacement. But, there is just as much uncertainty now than there was before his surgeon’s announcement.
The announcement clears his health, not his athletic ability.
Peyton’s camp clearly wants the word out that he can still play. But let’s wait until we see video of his Hall of Fame bound arm back at full strength until we begin the chatter.
He’ll be taking team physicals soon enough.