Peyton Manning’s Neck Surgeon Clears NFL Return as Colts Say Not So Fast

The surgeon who fused Peyton Manning’s neck says the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback has been cleared to play. The National Football League team’s owner says not so fast.

“Peyton Manning underwent a thorough medical re-evaluation as part of a postoperative visit with his surgeon,” Robert Watkins said yesterday in a statement. “As a result of this examination, Manning is medically cleared to play professional football.”

Team owner Jim Irsay responded on Twitter by writing, “Peyton has not passed our physical nor has he been cleared to play for The Indianapolis Colts.”

Irsay added that a team statement on the situation would be released today.

The disagreement comes as the Colts are trying to decide whether to pick up a $28 million contract option on Manning, who missed the entire 2011 NFL season after having the spinal-fusion surgery -- the third on his neck -- in September.

The team, which has until March 8 to make a decision, finished 2-14 last season and has the top pick in the NFL draft. Irsay has said that the Colts would draft highly touted quarterback Andrew Luck out of Stanford University.

Following the firings of Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Vice Chairman Bill Polian and General Manager Chris Polian, Manning told the Indianapolis Star in January that the team’s practice facility wasn’t a good place for healing from the spinal fusion surgery.

“It’s not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least,” he said. “Everybody’s walking around on eggshells.”

Irsay, 52, and Manning, 35, issued a joint statement on Jan. 27 to say that there were no hard feelings between the two.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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