Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay hopes to sign Peyton Manning to a contract extension when the season ends, a move that could make the four-time MVP the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history.
Manning’s contract is set to expire after the 2010 season, but Irsay doesn’t want to wait.
“With one year to go, even having the franchise tag and all that sort of thing, we’d like to get something done, sooner than later,” Irsay said. “So once the season ends, we’re going to be talking about that and hopefully getting something done before next season begins. It’s something that’s going to get done, so honestly, those aren’t the ones you worry about.”
First order of business for Manning and the Colts: Trying to beat New Orleans on Sunday for their second Super Bowl title in four years.
A new deal could keep Manning in Indianapolis for the rest of his career, something Irsay would like to do.
The 34-year-old Manning has won a record number of MVPs, one Super Bowl MVP and is one of four quarterbacks to throw for more than 50,000 yards. He is third all-time in career TD passes with 366, trailing only Brett Favre (497) and Dan Marino (420).
Manning has started 209 consecutive games including the playoffs.
He signed a $98 million deal in 2004.
Belle of the media ball, too
Manning worked the room masterfully. He took questions from all directions, throwing in plenty of eye contact. He spoke glowingly when necessary, took a few stabs at humor and steered away from anything that might come across as controversial.
He handled Super Bowl media day Tuesday in Miami with the same aplomb he shows at the line of scrimmage.
Clearly the biggest star in South Florida, Manning spoke on a wide range of subjects without revealing a whole lot we didn’t already know. He certainly didn’t provide any bulletin-board fodder to Sunday’s opponent, New Orleans.
Heck, that’s his hometown, the city where his father Archie played and still lives. If the Colts weren’t trying to win a title of their own, Manning would’ve been the Saints’ biggest fan. He was certainly happy when they beat Minnesota in an overtime thriller to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl, a game that Manning won three years ago.
“The Saints were my team growing up,” he said. “I was really excited for New Orleans, watching them win that game against the Vikings. It was exciting to see the French Quarter empty in the third quarter and then be packed after the game. I had a lot of friends down there tell me what it was like.”
Manning said he also appreciates the history of the Colts, dating back to their days in Baltimore. In fact, one of his father’s favorite players was Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas (the other: Mickey Mantle).
“I understand the significance of Unitas,” Manning said. “I still feel that connection to Colts history.”
Freeney hopes to play
Colts All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney still hopes to play Sunday despite a torn ligament in his right ankle.
“Hopefully, towards the end of the week it starts to get better,” Freeney said at media day. “The decision will come later on in the week. It’s kind of early now.”
Freeney said it’s “very discouraging” not to be able to practice for Sunday’s game.
“The competitor in me says they’ll never stop me from being on the field,” he said with a laugh before adding: “There’s some pain there definitely with throwing everything at it, all types of techniques to find the best thing to get this thing as good as possible.
“You name it, I’ve probably done it.”