Yesterday, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was the bearer of bad news for Colts fans worldwide with his report that Peyton Manning’s recovery from a trio of neck surgeries was moving slowly. And that came only hours after ESPN’s John Clayton had added enough fuel to the Manning fire to overshadow Super Bowl week with his report that No. 18 is likely going to retire.

Today, it’s Jason Cole’s turn.

The Yahoo! Sports writer drops word that Manning’s velocity is still not improving:

“The nerves in Manning’s arm are not healing as quickly as hoped and, worse, don’t appear to be progressing at enough of a rate to indicate that he will play again, according to two sources with knowledge of Manning’s rehabilitation from neck surgery. The vertebrae in his neck that were fused have healed as expected and Manning began throwing in December. But he hasn’t shown improvement in velocity on his passes, and the two sources fear he likely never will again.

“In addition, two league-affiliated doctors with experience in spinal fusion surgery said it could take up to a year before Manning knows if he can return. Both said the risk is too great for Manning to play again and, because of the timeline, neither would recommend the Colts pay Manning the $28 million bonus he is owed in March.”

I understand that the Colts are a fairly silent organization — not a lot gets out, even in spite of Jim Irsay’s seemingly esoteric Twitter behavior. But reports continue to point to the end for Manning, and I doubt everyone’s wrong together here.

What’s particularly interesting to me is the timing of these reports. They’ve all come from anonymous sources in the days directly following the team’s decision to fire virtually the entire coaching staff and clean out a chunk of the front office. I’d imagine most or all of these sources were Colts employees in the not-too-distant past.

We’ll continue to speculate on Manning’s fate until he’s officially signed or released at some point in the next six weeks, regardless of what we see and hear. And after one of those things happens, the speculation won’t stop until Manning’s throwing touchdown passes again…or until he’s sipping lemonade on a porch somewhere in Louisiana. That’s what people do when they’re retired, right?

Actually, thanks to Brett Favre, the speculation probably won’t stop until a year or two after Manning steps away, whenever that may be.