Breaking news: Peyton Manning sits out Friday’s practice with soreness in his left foot. More breaking news — that isn’t breaking news.
It’s a very tough thing when the focus of your life since you were five years old, 34 years ago, won’t be that same focus any longer. It’s brutal when the GOAT, who has collected records and awards like some folks collect Hummel figurines, has to face the one opponent that no one ever beats. Time always wins. It’s always hard when it does.
Over the last week, we’ve found out the real path of his situation. Peyton can’t practice without severe pain. Archie Manning spoke honestly this week, saying that Peyton’s foot problems have been going on for 5-6 months or more. That fits exactly into the time period for the OTAs and training camp. He wasn’t himself in preseason. He wasn’t himself in the first half of the season.
We didn’t know. There were other possibilities beyond a foot problem. Emmanuel Sanders missed much of training camp with a hamstring pull. He has one now — they’re very hard to cure during the season. They recur frequently. Demaryius Thomas missed practice time with his contract talks. They didn’t get in the practice time that has been Manning’s trademark. The new scheme isn’t friendly to what Peyton’s been used to. But none of that matters now.
Peyton said that the actual tear occurred in the game at Indianapolis. I don’t doubt him. By then, according to Archie’s timeline, Peyton had lived with the increased stresses of pro football to the plantar fascia for 5-6 months. When Archie’s puzzle was made public, what happened here stopped being in any sense a mystery. Manning’s own drive has come back to bite him.
It’s essential to rest a player with plantar fasciitis (let’s use PF). In the last month, Manning was on a walking boot, which is obviously appropriate. I don’t worry about his care at Dove Valley. I do worry when a 39-year-old QB doesn’t report an injury that affects every aspect of his game over a 5-6 month period. I have nothing but respect for Manning, but he was wrong. If he’d reported it and had it treated, we might well not be having this discussion.
Here’s what PF really is:
“Collagen degeneration with fibre disorientation, increased mucoid ground substance, angiofibroblastic hyperplasia and calcification are the most frequently reported findings.”
It’s simpler than the jargon. There are three bands to the PF. Only the middle is important here. The inside (medial) band is very thin and the outside band doesn’t fully form, in many folks. The middle band carries the vast majority of the load.
That middle band begins to degenerate when the condition goes untreated, as it did here. Collagen, the connective tissue, begins to degenerate. A swelling, builds up, made of broken fibers and of calcium, among other substances. “Angiofibroblastic hyperplasia” just means that despite the name, this isn’t an inflammatory condition, but a degenerative one. That’s why it was so imperative for Manning to report it when it first came on. At that point, it could be treated with a high rate of success. He could be playing for that Super Bowl right now.
Instead, he’s just tried to use it without the boot and had immediate pain. That would put him roughly back in Stage II of the problem. It’s like walking on broken glass.
To answer the key question — no, I don’t see it as a medical possibility for Peyton to return this season. I hope I’m wrong. He could come in during the last half of the Super Bowl and win it for them. That’s several weeks off.
But for the next month at least, Denver’s going to go with Brock Osweiler. It’s just physical medicine. Illness doesn’t feel for us. Injury has no compassion. It won’t heal faster than it heals. We are at its mercy. For Peyton Manning, that’s a tough pill to swallow.
But it’s reality. Let’s root like mad for Osweiler. He’s the horse we’re going to be riding.
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