The era is over.
The Indianapolis Colts' breakup with Peyton Manning is official -- ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Manning will be released Wednesday -- and it displaces any of the most extreme examples of business ruling sports.
Since 1993, the NFL standard for “it can happen to anyone” has been Joe Montana. The San Francisco 49ers traded Montana, regarded by many as the greatest quarterback of all time, to the Kansas City Chiefs.
But Manning was even more unlikely to finish his career on a second team. He has been cut, not traded, which makes it more extreme. While Andrew Luck is regarded as a can’t-miss prospect, he’s hardly as can’t-miss as was Steve Young, who was already playing for the 49ers when they moved Montana.
Henceforth, in any conversation about the possibility of a star player who's intertwined with his team and city moving elsewhere, I believe we will say, “If it could happen to Peyton Manning with the Colts, it can happen to anyone.”
We have the new, supreme example of business trumping relationships, sentiment and history.
And we have the next big step in the NFL’s biggest offseason story: How is Manning's arm strength? Where will Manning land? How will the Colts move on?
Stay tuned for much more.