Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay laughed off speculation he and Peyton Manning are feuding, saying he wants to see the star quarterback stay in a Colts uniform.
Irsay was inducted into the Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame downtown Thursday night and spoke to reporters before the ceremony.
Peyton's Place: The Latest News On Peyton Manning
He stressed that he and Manning have been in constant contact as they wade through contract issues.
"We've talked a lot this month, probably more than most Februarys, and it's probably not what most people think we talk about" he said. "Very recently, we got into a debate about will Tiger Woods win more majors than Jack Nicklaus or not."
Peyton and I have talked and said that certainly by that date or sooner, we'd like to just come to something that makes sense for both of us," Irsay said. "It's a difficult thing, because sometimes circumstances are thrown at you. You take your hands out of the deck that you're dealt and you deal with them."
The Colts owe Manning a $28 million roster bonus by March 8. If Indianapolis doesn't pay the bonus, Manning becomes an unrestricted free agent.
"We both know everyone has great interest in it, and we'll just keep talking," Irsay said. "I think we both understand each other's issues."
Manning missed all of the 2011 season after undergoing a third, possibly a fourth, neck surgery in 19 months. He has been medically cleared to continue playing football, but there have been conflicting reports over his ability to throw the ball.
Irsay downplayed the recent back-and-forth between himself and Manning in the press as a symptom of the pair's competitive relationship.
"If I call him a politician, he asks for one stroke back on the golf course. And I said, no, he's giving me one more because I thought he was acting like a jerk before," he said, laughing. "We have that type of relationship. We're both very competitive, but I have a lot of close friends and they've said a lot worse things to me, and I've said a lot worse things to them than him, and I have."
Several moves in recent weeks have suggested that the Colts are looking for a way to part with Manning delicately, without taking a large public relations hit, while others have speculated that Manning wants out of Indianapolis as well.
Irsay said he and Manning's history together will help them come to a fair agreement.
"We know there's a lot of people that speculate on every aspect of it, but we don't worry about how close our relationship is, and that it's a lifelong relationship," he said. "Him and I will always continue to be great friends, and I hope it's with him still being in a Colts uniform, but we'll see as we go forward the next few weeks."
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