It seems a little silly and somewhat petty.
I'd like to hear what Manning has to say about lockout life in the NFL as much as anyone. I also wouldn't mind his take on court proceedings of a case to which his name is prominently attached.
But I don't understand why he should be criticized for choosing to keep his thoughts to himself, or even wanting to avoid reporters altogether by not revealing when and where he and his teammates are working out. Media types have blamed the stance primarily on two factors: Manning's concerns over marketability and the notion that he doesn't have enough confidence in his knowledge of the intricacies antitrust suit he and fellow quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees (among others) filed against the league on behalf of all current players. Neither seems to carry much weight. If Manning's marketability was that large a concern, he would have never placed his name on the suit in the first place. And who besides the lawyers could possibly have even the slightest grasp of all the legal maneuvering of the past couple of months?
A league source shared a reason for Manning's reticence that makes the most sense of all: His expired contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning is among the more media-savvy players in the NFL. He understands that any encounter with microphones and cameras would invite questions about whatever deal he might or might not sign when league business resumes. The Colts placed a franchise tag on Manning in February, meaning under pre-lockout rules, he's locked to a one-year contract worth $23 million. However, he knows there is a long-term deal in his future, likely one that would make him the highest-paid player in NFL history. As the league source pointed out, talking about it now, when no negotiations are allowed, can do nothing to help his bargaining position and might only serve to harm it in the long run.
Could Manning get away with simply saying he chooses not to comment on that or legal matters or any other topic he wishes not to discuss? Yes.
But he figures that steering clear of all questions is better than being selective about the ones that could be considered safer to field -- and therefore expose him to more criticism.