South Florida is in the midst of Peyton-mania this week, with fans chomping at the bit over the Miami Dolphins' pursuit of free agent quarterback Peyton Manning. But ESPN has figuratively thrown a bucket of ice water on South Florida Friday, saying the team may already be on the outside looking in on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.
ESPN's Adam Schefter speculated Friday that even though the Dolphins appeared to be the favorite to land Peyton Manning, they may have already blown their chance. The reason? The circus that erupted when Manning arrived at his offseason South Florida home on Wednesday following his release by the Indianapolis Colts.
However, Schefter's reporting on this issue seems thin at best. Instead of citing sources close to Peyton Manning, Schefter said he came to this opinion after talking to "people around the league."
These "people around the league" said Manning could have been unnerved by the pursuit of news cameras when he arrived in South Florida earlier this week. He said Manning never had to deal with this much scrutiny and attention in Indianapolis, and that could scare him off from Miami.
If Manning were to actually shy away from Miami because of excess attention, we've got news for him. Wherever Manning signs, he will be instantly touted as a franchise savior and demigod. If he is looking for a town where he could make quiet trips to the mall uninterrupted by fans asking for his autograph, he should consider Tokyo or London. No city in America will give Manning the anonymity he supposedly wants.
Additionally, Schefter said Manning could turn down the Dolphins because then-Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh turned down the team a year ago and former Tennessee Titans coach (and current Rams coach) Jeff Fisher turned down the Dolphins earlier this offseason.
It seems like what happened during LeBron James' free agency circus in 2010 is going to repeat itself with Peyton Manning this year. Remember when LeBron was rumored to sign with the Heat, Knicks, and Cavs all at once during the summer of 2010? Media outlets with time and space to fill will allow broad speculation to stand in for reporting.
It does not appear that Schefter has spoken with anyone who has any substantive knowledge of Manning's thoughts and feelings, but he ran with the idle chatter of NFL executives anyway.
So before Dolfans start hitting the bottle in disappointment, it's worth remembering: once upon a time it seemed like LeBron James was never coming to Miami, then it did. There is no guarantee this will repeat itself with Manning, but it is worth remembering that the sports rumor mill will be even more unreliable than usual this offseason.