ManningWatch: Marshall Faulk weighs in

INDIANAPOLIS -- Retired St. Louis Rams great Marshall Faulk played with Peyton Manning and for Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Faulk, speaking at Super Bowl media day, said he thought the back-and-forth between Manning and Irsay stemmed from the owner's unwillingness to expose the quarterback to a debilitating injury.

"It's not financial with Jim," Faulk said. "No, he has not told me this, these are not his words, but I am listening to his message. That is my job, listen to what is being said, not what is not being said, and he keeps harping on Peyton's health. That means Peyton's quality of life beyond football, being able to be the father and the husband that he can be by being healthy."

Manning's contract calls for him to receive a $28 million bonus March 8. The scheduled payment has accelerated discussions about Manning's future. As for the money itself?

"I don't think it's financial," Faulk said. "I mean, it made sense last year to not give him that kind of money. I mean, let's be honest. I love Peyton, but that's a lot of money to not play -- even if you knew he wasn't going to play half the season. That is what they were talking about: By Week 8, he'll be back. If that is the case, then I can give you eight games, too."

Faulk suggested delaying the $28 million payment could buy time if Manning decided he wanted to remain with the Colts. But he reiterated his contention that Irsay is most concerned about Manning's health, adding that the ability to draft Stanford's Andrew Luck first overall was also a secondary issue.

"I believe this would be the case if they were drafting 31st," Faulk said. "It just so happens they have an opportunity to do what the 49ers did when Joe Montana left, which was to put Steve Young in there. It's a great situation to be in. At the same time, it's an awful situation to be in."