INDIANAPOLIS — Archie Manning figures Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck can co-exist in Indianapolis after all.
One day after Archie Manning told an Indy radio show he didn’t think either quarterback wanted to be on the same team, he backtracked and said he thought the two could work together just fine — if the winless Colts get the No. 1 pick next spring and choose Luck.
“I’m sure they could,” Archie Manning said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Andrew is a great young man and we’ve enjoyed getting to know him. He and Peyton have a friendship, and I’m one of the few people out there that’s not really concerned about this deal. All good people respect each other and I’m sure this will all shake out.”
The connection between the Mannings and the Lucks dates back almost three decades when Archie Manning and Luck’s father, Oliver, were teammates in Houston.
The two family patriarchs still communicate and their quarterback-playing sons have gotten to know one another, too. Andrew Luck has attended the Manning Passing Academy as both a pupil and a counselor, and after making up his mind to return to school last winter, the Stanford quarterback contacted Peyton Manning asking for advice about how to handle this season.
But Tuesday morning on 1260 WNDE, Archie Manning seemed to express concerns over the two being teammates in 2012.
“I don’t think it’d necessarily be great for either one,” he said then. “I think Andrew’s the type of mature player . . . he can walk right in. I mean, these other three or four guys that are playing this year, (if) they can walk in and contribute, Andrew can, too.”
The comments caused lots of commotion in Indianapolis, where the 0-12 Colts are a heavy favorite to get the top pick in April’s draft and could select Luck.
Team vice chairman Bill Polian has declined to comment specifically on Luck, citing NFL rules that prohibit team officials from commenting on players until they make themselves eligible for the draft. Luck has not yet filed the paperwork to give up his final year of eligibility and enter the draft.
Archie Manning, who is promoting the Liberty Mutual coach of the year award, explained Wednesday that he didn’t mean to raise such a ruckus.
“I thought they were asking whether Andrew Luck should sit or play, and I think he’s too good to sit,” he said.
The questions about Luck have taken center stage in Indy with Peyton Manning facing an uncertain future.
On Sept. 8, the four-time league MVP had a spinal fusion, his third neck surgery in 19 months. Last week, doctors gave Manning the OK to increase the pace and intensity of his rehabilitation regiment .Team officials have not yet explained what Manning will do, though he was seen standing next to coach Jim Caldwell when Wednesday’s practice began.
Caldwell said he did not expect Manning to participate in team workouts this week and that he wasn’t sure if that would happen before the season ends.
The Colts have kept Manning on the active roster all season in hopes he could start throwing before the Jan. 1 finale at Jacksonville. Polian, general manager Chris Polian and team owner Jim Irsay also must decide whether to exercise a $28 million option or let Manning become a free agent.
When will Manning start throwing with his teammates?
“There has been no timetable set on it from a coaching standpoint, from a personnel standpoint,” Caldwell said. “Those that performed the surgery do all that. They say things look better and we’re encouraged and we’ll increase his rehab and that’s all they said about it. At some point in time, they’ll let us know. That could be this season. That could be after this season.”
The hottest topic in Indy has been what the Colts will do with Manning and what they plan to do in the draft.
Indy’s franchise quarterback has called speculation about the No. 1 pick disrespectful to the players still trying to win games after an 0-12 start.
Dwight Freeney, however, was upset about something else — NFL Magazine, a league publication, choosing Manning as the 2011 MVP.
“It is disrespectful and it’s ridiculous across the board, to all of the guys who are actually playing the game,” Freeney said. “To the guys who are playing hard, it’s unfortunate that they’re doing something like that. They will and they do look ridiculous doing that.”
But Manning’s father believes his son will be back in his familiar No. 18 jersey next season.
“He loves to play, he wants to play and I think if he gets his health back, he still capable of playing at a high level,” Archie Manning said. “That’s his DNA.”