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Older brother says predicting future for Colts' Manning is futile

INDIANAPOLIS -- Actor Rob Lowe caused a stir two weeks ago when, via Twitter, he passed along a rumor he heard that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was retiring.

Those in the Manning family have responded with questions over how Lowe would even know that information. And, on Monday, the oldest Manning brother expressed his belief that the opposite is true, that his younger brother is indeed set on adding to an already illustrious career.

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When I asked Cooper Manning if Peyton is "determined," he responded quickly, saying, "I think that's a great word for it."

"What I do know is Peyton is going to do every single thing a human being can possibly do to get ready to play again," Cooper Manning said from his office in New Orleans. "Where, when and how he'll play, that's all up in the air. But as far as his body goes, Peyton's smart, he'll know what to do. Anyone predicting what will happen now going forward is just wasting their breath. But he is working as hard as anyone can work to get out there again."

Peyton Manning turns 36 in March and has undergone three neck procedures in the past two years. His health isn't exactly a dinnertime topic for the family, but his attitude has worked to keep things in perspective.

"One thing that's helped me is how well Peyton handled it," said his father, Archie Manning. "He has a great attitude. He and I have an agreement: I don't ask how he's doing, how much he's improving, how far he's throwing the ball, anything like that. We have our conversations, and I know he's in a good frame of mind. That's helped us.

"We want what's good for Peyton. We're appreciative of health, and he wants to play some more, so we want him to play some more. Everyone's at peace with it."

Cooper Manning alluded to the uncertainty that has been created by the unpredictably of his brother's condition. Peyton Manning's ability to return will depend on nerve regeneration in his neck, a situation that is unpredictable and difficult on which to put a timetable. Doctors have said the average return for an athlete would be somewhere between nine months and a year, but that it varies wildly enough to the point where the regeneration could happen next week -- or not at all.

One milepost coming in Peyton's future is on March 8, when he is owed a $28 million option bonus.

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Cooper Manning did say he felt like, even with that de facto deadline looming, there isn't any ill will between the Colts and their iconic quarterback.

"I honestly don't think Peyton meant anything beyond what he said," Cooper said. "He and (Colts owner Jim) Irsay have talked, so I think everything's fine there."

The whole Manning family will descend on Indianapolis this week. Archie is expected to arrive Wednesday, with Cooper joining Friday. With youngest brother Eli starting for the Giants on Sunday, this will be four Super Bowls in six seasons for the family.

"That's crazy," Cooper said. "I don't even know how to explain that. It's been fun. I just never could've imagined it. I guess I'd say it's all been so enjoyable that you don't reflect on it while it's going on. We can do that in 15 or 20 years. For now, we're just enjoying it, feeling fortunate and having fun."

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer

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