The notion that Peyton Manning might play this year was always foolish and borderline absurd.

Perhaps there would have been an argument to be made if the Colts were remotely in playoff contention right now. We could cite clichés repeatedly and say that in the playoffs anything can happen, and you just never know. Great fun would be had by all.

But the Colts aren’t in contention. At this point, they just hope they can win a damn game.

Actually, no, that’s not correct. Although they’ve unofficially clinched Andrew Luck the first overall pick in next spring’s draft with four games remaining (they haven’t won yet, and the Rams and Vikings are tied with two wins), trying to win is still far too risky.

Clearly that will never be acknowledged publicly. Tanking is a subconscious act done through coaching and personnel decisions, and this is one of those decisions…

The lack of a desire to win plays a small part in this admission, but reality took the leading role. As much as Irsay would love to see a healthy and fully functioning Manning, the four-time MVP simply hasn’t reached that stage yet..

If a healthy Manning can still be the same Manning we’ve come to know and love throughout his career, then he’s either the Colts Hall of Fame quarterback for several more seasons, or he’s a highly valuable trade chip this offseason as the transition to Luck begins.

Either way, activating Manning to play for a winless team that’s mailing in the remaining four games would be a highly unintelligent managerial decision, even if he was healthy.