And now it’s time for your daily dose of Peyton Manning news. Just 22 days from the deadline for which the Colts owe Manning a $28 million non-guaranteed option, a report from Sports Illustrated claims that Manning actually underwent a fourth, until-now-unreported, surgical procedure on his neck in the past two years.

Until now, the belief was that No. 18 had only gone under the knife three times to address issues with bulging discs and/or a lack of cervical fusion in his neck.

But it gets worse. From SI’s Don Banks:

“In addition, league sources say Manning’s neck has potentially developed bone spurs just above the point where his latest fusion surgery took place in early September, and the Colts organization is under the belief that it is nearly inevitable Manning will at some point require further surgery, and possibly another fusion procedure, even if he does successfully return to the field in 2012.”

Banks added that “the team is concerned that Manning’s neck injuries have reached the chronic stage, and that there could be a genetic aspect to his condition.” His brother Cooper had his football career upended as a teenager due to spinal stenosis.

I’m not a doctor (yet) but I’d have to believe that, based on the time it has taken Manning to regain his throwing ability following previous procedures, another operation — and another attempt at fusion in particular — would put his career in serious jeopardy.

Yesterday’s report du jour that team owner Jim Irsay was opening the door for a potential Manning return further bolstered my belief that there’s a sneaky chance Manning lands back in Indy in 2012. But this report from Banks only serves to bolster the even more likely chance that Manning simply never plays professional football again.

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