OK, so that would be a big, flashing, neon "no" on Peyton Manning returning to the Colts?

It's not that folks actually thought Jim Irsay was actually going to give his injured quarterback $28 million next year to quite possibly do what he did for $22 million this year - absolutely nothing. Really. We get it.

So when Irsay fired Colts architect Bill Polian, his son and GM Chris Polian, head coach Jim Caldwell, most of his assistant coaches, members of the training staff and the guy who went to get Pizza Hut for lunch, we didn't really need a war of words between Archie's kid and Robert's kid to crystallize the landscape.

Luckily for all those football writers with two weeks to kill before the Super Bowl, we got one anyhow. And as word wars go, this one was fairly decent.

Thanks for the NFL championship, all those 10-win seasons, a season ticket waiting list and that football cathedral you help us build that will bring the Super Bowl to downtown Indianapolis, Peyton. See ya.

That fine. And that's fair. The Colts have Andrew Luck warming up in the bullpen and we haven't seen Manning lift his arm over his head in quite awhile. And if you're Manning and you can still play football, why the long face?

Even if he plays, the Colts were old and past prime. Now at 36 - provided he's healthy - Manning has his pick of ready-to-win franchises ready to pay handsomely for his ability to put them over the top:

• As good as San Francisco is, put Manning in for Alex Smith - who is kind of like Tim Tebow, 2.0. Suddenly wide receivers are catching passes for the 49ers. But I can also see problems between two guys used to running an offense - Manning and Jim Harbaugh. That's two really stubborn people right there gang.

• Speaking of Tebow, what better way to usher the likable but limited kid out of Denver than to pair John Elway and Manning in the Mile High city? Of course, Manning will have to live with Elway's pronouncement that Tebow is the starter going into training camp. But as for Day 2 ...

• If I were Rex Ryan, I'd dump Mark Sanchez over the side and take a long look at Manning with the Jets. That team is one piece away, and the wide receiving corps is already in place.

• And we saved the best for last. I was one of the people who lobbied for Kevin Kolb to come to Arizona last year. I still think he's a good quarterback. And for a team that finished 7-2 without Kolb, he might be enough to get you back to the playoffs.

But if I have a chance to get Manning, a chance to have the second coming of Kurt Warner, a chance to have Manning and Larry Fitzgerald running your offense, a chance to push the Earth off its axis one more time ... well Kevin, it's been a pleasure. Your check is with the secretary up front.

Yes, Ken Whisenhunt likes to call the plays. Yes, if Todd Haley finally signs on, he will have dial back the public demonstrations - or direct them elsewhere. And while Manning isn't quite the person Warner is, Warner isn't quite the quarterback Manning is.

Think about it: Arizona could be Peyton's Place. And for $15-20 million a year (someone go over and pick the Bidwills up off the floor), you have a chance to make Lightning strike twice in Glendale.

The Super Bowl returns to Arizona in 2015. But if Manning can still play, and the Cardinals are half as smart as Charlie Casserly gives them credit for, there might be a chance for the local team to return even sooner.

Quick hitters

• Nine years and $214 million, plus all the Little Ceasars Pizza you can eat, for Prince Fielder? Yes he can DH once his knees can't handle the girth anymore, but did that lineup really need another slow slugger?

• Nice get by new Sun Devil coach Todd Graham, getting Saguaro's D.J. Foster to commit to ASU. Might be interesting to see who stays in Tempe longer.

• Steve Nash is just the tonic to cure what ails the Knicks. But if you think Robert Sarver will trade Nash to New York to help save Mike D'Antoni's job - no matter what he gets in return - you haven't been paying attention.

• Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at jbrown5548@aol.com

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