Peyton Manning is in the final year of his contract, but Indianapolis Colts fans can sleep easy - their Pro Bowl quarterback said he has no plans to follow LeBron James's playbook and look for greener pastures. No doubt there will be a long line of suitors with cheque books in hand ready to sign the four-time NFL MVP next season. But Jim Irsay, the Colts owner, has said he is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Manning in Indianapolis, including making him the league's highest paid player.
Unlike James, who kept Cavaliers basketball fans squirming for months before announcing he was leaving Cleveland for Miami, Manning has made it clear there is no place he wants to be more than Indianapolis. "I have a contract for this year," Manning said. "I've not had to cloud my mind with contract details. "I've just been able to play football and that's my focus right now ... I have faith it will get done at a certain time, whenever that is I'm not exactly sure.
"This is obviously where I want to play, where I want to be. Indianapolis is my home, I enjoy playing here, I enjoy living here and hope to play here for the rest of my career." Entering the final year of a US$98 million (Dh359.9m), seven-year deal, Manning's numbers indicate he is in line for a big rise. Having secured the first overall pick in the 1998 draft, the Colts used it to select Manning over Ryan Leaf, another hot prospect, who turned out to be one of the draft's biggest busts.
With Manning at the controls of the offence, the Colts have posted double-digit wins in 10 of the past 11 seasons and have gone seven consecutive years with 12 or more victories. They have flirted with perfection, including a 14-0 start to last season, and have made it to the Super Bowl twice in the last four years, winning it all in 2007. Last season, Manning, 34, passed Vinny Testaverde, Warren Moon and Fran Tarkenton to move into fourth place on the NFL's all-time passing list with 50,128 yards, trailing only John Elway, Dan Marino and Brett Favre.
Manning has also earned his pay cheque, making 192 consecutive regular season starts, second only to Favre, the Minnesota Vikings' ironman, who is at 285 with the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. * Reuters