Manning, Irsay pledge mutual respect after back and forth

Hours after Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay criticized Peyton Manning for being a "politician" and airing the team's internal business publicly, the quarterback responded with an apparent call for civility.

"At this point, Mr. Irsay and I owe it to each other and to the fans of the organization to handle this appropriately and professionally, and I think we will," Manning told The Indianapolis Star on Thursday. "I've already reached out to Mr. Irsay. I wasn't trying to paint the Colts in a bad light, but it's tough when so many people you've known for so long are suddenly leaving.

"I feel very close to a lot of these guys and we've done great things together. It's hard to watch an old friend clean out his office. That's all I was trying to say. I just want to keep rehabbing and working hard, and when the time is right for Mr. Irsay and I to sit down, I look forward to a healthy conversation about my future. I've worked too hard and have such great respect and have so many great relationships inside the building and out, and it's incredibly important that those remain."

Irsay responded using his favorite medium: Twitter.

Wrote Irsay: "Peyton and I love each other,that goes without saying..I humbly serve n protect the Horseshoe..it is bigger than any individual,including me"

Irsay first took issue with Manning's comments, which were made Monday night to The Star. Irsay's response, which came as he introduced new coach Chuck Pagano on Thursday, suggest a rift between he and Manning at a time when the sides are just six weeks away from a March 8 deadline in which the Colts must pay the four-time NFL MVP a $28 million bonus or risk losing him as a free agent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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