Peyton Manning will hear a lot of talk in the coming days and weeks about retirement. As is Peyton’s way, talk of his demise may end up a little premature.
Denver Broncos quarterback Manning has arrived in New Jersey ahead of this weekend’s Super Bowl with no concrete plans to hang up his boots, according to the New York Daily News. Manning has been written off a number of times in the past but sees no reason to retire, regardless of the the result against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.
“I really have no plans beyond this game, had no plans coming into this season beyond this year”, claimed Manning at a Jersey City press conference on Sunday. While that may lead fans to question his commitment to the Broncos next season, he was clearer with remarks about his thought process leading into the big game.
Manning stated: “Everybody enjoys the games, everybody’s going to be excited to play in a Super Bowl, but I think when you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you probably still ought to be doing that. I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can’t produce, if I can’t help the team, that’s when I’ll stop playing.”
The Broncos have made the most of Manning’s remarkable renaissance in the 2013 NFL season. At the age of 37, Manning threw for league high 5,477 yards in the regular season, and is expected to pick up his fifth MVP award for the season, extending his own NFL record. All this at the age of 37, and just two years after Manning was let go by the Indianapolis Colts after a forgettable 2011.
Manning’s fitness was a concern earlier this month, when it was suggested he may be considering retirement if a long-standing injury to his neck couldn’t be repaired – the same injury that led to his exit from the Colts. Manning seems now to have put that behind him, saying “I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point”. According to the Washington Post, Manning’s surgeries have included a procedure to fix fused vertebrae.
Retirement at the very top of a player’s game isn’t unheard of – Manning himself named John Elway, Ray Lewis and Michael Strahan in his press conference. But with its possibility of a second champions ring for one of the NFL’s greatest ever players, Super Bowl XLVIII may be no more than the next chapter in a long Indian Summer for Peyton Manning.
Image courtesy of Vandelium at DeviantArt.