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The Globe and Mail

Peyton Manning's days as a Colt may be numbered

Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts watches the action during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was reported that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay doesn't expect quarterback Peyton Manning to play again until the 2012 season after Manning underwent his third surgical procedure on his neck in 19 months September 26, 2011. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Peyton Manning feels his days as an Indianapolis Colt may be numbered, as he told the Indianapolis Star in a Monday night interview.

Manning, recovering from neck surgery that caused him to miss the 2011 season, realizes it's a possibility the team won't pick up his $28 million option by early March and risk seeing the all-time great in another uniform.

"I mean, it's 20 degrees, it's snowing, the building is absolutely empty except when you see coaches cleaning out their offices. I guess it's the reality of the football world, just not something I've had to deal with very often. But I'm in there every day, so I have to sit there and see it. Everybody's being evaluated and I'm no different. It's not the best environment," Manning told the paper.

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"I just want to pay tribute to all those guys. It's unfortunate because so many of them have been such a big part of so many big wins here, and this is so ... sudden. Their keys didn't work the next day. There's no other way to do it? I don't know. That's hard to see, all these people leaving ... And I may be behind them. Who knows?"

Manning said he's uncomfortable at the team's facilities following the firing of head coach Jim Caldwell and so much of his staff.

"I'm not in a very good place for healing, let's say that," he told the newspaper. "It's not a real good environment down there right now, to say the least. Everybody's walking around on eggshells. I don't recognize our building right now. There's such complete and total change."

Manning is in an odd position, wanting to play the remainder of his career with the Colts but saying he's not ready for retirement if Indy doesn't bring him back.

"I don't want to get into some kind of fan campaign with the owner, but I think it's well documented that I want to play in the same place my whole career," Manning told the Indianapolis Star "It's been a privilege to play here. I love the fans, the city, the transformation of the fans, how our place has become the toughest stadium to play in, the fact our fans wear more jerseys to games than anybody else. It's been fun to be a part of that."

"But I understand how it works. I understand tough decisions have to be made. There's personal and there's business and that's where we've got to separate the two. I've seen other guys leave places and it was personal. I've invested too much into this city for that to happen. We live here, we've given lots of time and money to the community and our church, and that's never going to change. Nothing changes that."

Nothing changes Manning's remarkable career accomplishments either, including a Super Bowl title, 11 Pro Bowl selections and 11 seasons of throwing for over 4,000 yards.

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