Although Peyton Manning's exit from Indianapolis never reached those levels of acrimony in the public eye, NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported this week, via sources familiar with the situation, that a string of internal power struggles left fissures in the organization by the time owner Jim Irsay declined to pick up the quarterback's $28 million option bonus.
Sidelined by ongoing neck troubles in a lost season, per Silver, a noodle-armed Manning pushed for a return to the field solely as a red-zone specialist for a seemingly meaningless Week 16 game versus the Texans.
Team president Bill Polian put the decision in the hands of Irsay, who recently revealed to Silver in an August interview that "things had gotten really, really bad" by the time he put the kibosh on Manning's return.
Once Irsay took control, cleaning out a front office built by Polian, Manning complained that he was "stunned ... surprised ... saddened ... and disappointed."
"It wasn't as easy (as people think)," Irsay told Silver. "Because people debated Luck and Griffin, and then people also said, 'Should you be taking Luck? Can't you reorganize the team around Peyton?'"
To the credit of Irsay and Manning, the ill feelings of the moment never oozed to the surface in the form of a drawn-out soap opera.
"It worked out like Peyton and I both hoped, and how everyone hoped," Irsay said. "He found a team that was outstanding and was able to have his greatest season and all those things. And we were able, with Ryan (Grigson) and Chuck (Pagano) and Bruce Arians, to be able to have a winning season and a playoff season so quickly, and we've built on that and now get to embrace some big expectations. It's really beautiful."
Irsay understands the decision "changed the whole dynamic of the league."