INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning is cleared to play football. Still not so clear is whether it will be with the Indianapolis Colts.
He got the good news Thursday while little brother Eli was making final preparations to lead the New York Giants against the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl — something big brother always aims for.
Maybe there's even a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl in the offing.
What remains unsettled, though, is Peyton's status with the Colts and whether he and team owner Jim Irsay can patch up their very public spat.
At least it's a possibility now that Manning's surgeon has given the star quarterback clearance to start taking hits again.
"Peyton Manning underwent a thorough medical re-evaluation as part of a postoperative visit with his surgeon," Dr. Robert Watkins said in a statement. "As a result of this examination, Manning is medically cleared to play professional football."
Colts owner Jim Irsay responded to Watkins' statement by writing on Twitter that Manning has not been cleared to play by the team because he has not passed its physical. He said the club would issue a statement later Friday.
That's just another piece of this muddled mess.
The Colts owe Manning a $28 million roster bonus by March 8, they want to use the No. 1 pick in this year's draft on Manning's successor and they must make key decisions over the next five weeks without knowing yet how much room they'll have under the salary cap.
Manning, who turns 36 in March, had neck surgery in September — his third in 19 months.
"We're in a holding pattern in that respect," new general manager Ryan Grigson said when asked if the uncertainty would prevent the Colts from doing business with their soon-to-be free agents. "Until it is (resolved), we're going to go about our business as usual."
Nobody seems to know how this will play out.
The biggest problem in Manning's recovery has been regaining the strength in his throwing arm. That's something Manning and the Colts have not discussed, and, apparently, it's not even a topic between the two brothers.
"I don't know what's going to happen with Peyton," Eli Manning said. "I know he is rehabbing. He is going to try to get better. I know he wants to continue to play football, if that's an option. The No. 1 priority for him is to get to 100 percent. Until he gets to that position, it's tough to say what is going to happen."
The Manning circus has dominated the headlines at Indianapolis' first Super Bowl.
It started with rumors about Manning's possible retirement, and the Colts' pending statement will certainly keep Peyton in the headlines — and overshadow his brother's quest for a second Super Bowl title — for a fifth consecutive day.
The question is whether the Colts are willing to pay a 36-year-old quarterback who has had three neck surgeries in 19 months.
And there have been growing indications the Colts may be ready to part with their longtime franchise player, though Irsay will make the final call.
"You can't do things to where you are going to hurt the whole franchise with other decisions that you know might hurt at the moment, but in the end they help the sum of the parts," Grigson said. "It is a tough deal in this business, and it happens at every position. It happens with coaching, it happens with people in personnel and it is completely part of the process and the business."
Irsay and Manning are scheduled to meet again next week.
Last month, the Colts fired vice chairman Bill Polian, general manager Chris Polian, coach Jim Caldwell and most of Caldwell's assistants. The flurry of moves prompted Manning to go public with his complaints, which drew a strong rebuke from Irsay.
The two appeared to mend fences Friday.
But the onslaught of Manning news just keeps coming.
"It's hard not to pay attention. It seems to be all over the news everywhere and I don't live in a cave," said Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the presumed successor to Manning.
"You never really replace someone like that," he added. "He (Manning) is such an iconic sports figure especially for this city, this area. From what I understand, he's done so many great things outside of football and in the community."