- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Colts star quarterback Peyton Manning had neck surgery Monday in Chicago to repair a disk problem.

It’s the second neck surgery since February 2010 for Manning. The previous was to repair a pinched nerve, and this operation was less invasive and less complicated, team owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday at the NFL meetings.

“He had a bulging disk,” Irsay said of the NFL’s only four-time league MVP. “The doctors removed a part of it.

“It’s usually a six-to-eight week recovery period. I think this is one you can bounce back from quickly.”

The surgery was performed at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Manning was back at home Tuesday.

Even though the NFL has locked out its players, communication between teams and players in these cases is allowed. So Manning was able to contact the team and its doctors before heading to Chicago for the operation.

“Now is the time to do it, the end of May,” Irsay reasoned. “He’s had things tougher than this before.”

Irsay, of course, has a special interest in Manning, who has started 227 consecutive games including the playoffs, second only to Brett Favre’s 321. His contract is up, but there is little chance Irsay will allow the 35-year-old Manning to become a free agent once a labor agreement is reached.

“He has a great chance to play five years,” Irsay said. “He’s such a tough guy, takes care of himself and really, really works hard. This won’t affect his long-term career.

“I feel good about it. This doesn’t affect the way I view (a new contract).”

Irsay suggested that Manning’s backup quarterbacks will throw more in training camp and see plenty of action in the preseason _ if the lockout ends in time to play those games.

“It’s like a baseball pitcher,” Irsay said. “You want to limit the throws he takes. But I think he will be good to go for the preseason games.”

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