Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and team owner Jim Irsay say they have a great relationship and want to “dispel any misperception that there might be any hard feelings between us.”
Their joint statement, published today on the Colts’ website, came after Manning questioned the atmosphere on the team and Irsay criticized the four-time National Football League Most Valuable Player for speaking out publicly.
“Since 1998, we have enjoyed a great relationship, based upon mutual respect and trust,” the pair said in the statement. “We have always been able to talk and address matters we’ve faced over the years, not just as owner and player, but as friends.”
Manning, 35, missed the 2011 season following neck surgery and the Colts went 2-14, their worst record in 20 years. Coach Jim Caldwell, Vice Chairman Bill Polian and General Manager Chris Polian were fired after the season.
Manning told the Indianapolis Star this week that the Colts’ practice facility wasn’t a good place for healing.
“It’s not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least,” he said. “Everybody’s walking around on eggshells.”
Irsay responded by telling reporters that Manning should have kept his opinions within the team.
“If you got a problem, you talk to each other, it’s not about campaigning or anything like that,” Irsay said.
Irsay has until March 8 to decide whether to pay Manning a $28 million bonus or let him become a free agent. The Colts have the No. 1 pick in the April draft and Irsay has said they will take Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck.
“We had a long talk today and we want to assure Colts fans everywhere that we are both committed to maintaining our close relationship and to working together through any challenges the future may bring,” Irsay and Manning said in the joint statement.