Ashley Manning is apparently more than just Peyton Manning’s wife — she’s the entire reason he’s playing in Super Bowl 50.
Manning has enjoyed a brilliant second act of his career, setting records during his five-year tenure with the Denver Broncos. It almost wasn’t to be, however.
Back in 2011, Peyton was dealing with a very serious neck injury that many believed would be career-ending. Peyton admitted that he was very seriously thinking of retirement, but it was Ashley Manning who talked him out of it.
“Because, they’re signing you and people are thinking they’re getting the player they had always seen before,” Peyton Manning told Sports Illustrated. “And so, Ashley was the one that was saying, ‘Peyton, you’ve got to try. You’ve got to try.’ ”
Manning noted that there had been weeks without any significant progress on his neck injury, and said he was at peace with the idea that he might never play again.
“I had this unbelievable string of health for 20 years—since I was 15 years old as a sophomore in high school. So who was I to complain now that I’m injured? I’ve given it as good a run as I can give it. I’ve got kids now. I had a peace about it. So I didn’t feel like I had to play to get another win or a touchdown. But she’s like, ‘You’ve got to try.’ So I was glad that she pushed me to do it. Once I did it, I was going at it, and then I started seeing a little bit of light there. So, yeah, she was the one who kind of pushed me through it.”
— Maria Vultaggio (@mariamzzarella) January 27, 2016
Ashley Manning has been by Peyton’s side for going on 20 years. The two met and fell in love during their college days, and got married in 2001. She has been quietly supportive of his career, staying mostly out of the spotlight (despite being a part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies).
— Gabe Correa (@OrangeTint) February 6, 2016
While Broncos fans can thank Ashley Manning for convincing her husband to give football another chance, she also may be embroiled in a scandal that taints the end of his career. Late last year, an investigative report from Al Jazeera America claimed that Peyton Manning received shipments of the banned hormone HGH through his wife.
The report claimed that the shipments came to the family’s home under Ashley Manning’s name. Ari Fleischer, the former George W. Bush press secretary who is now working with Manning on PR, told the Washington Post that Ashley Manning indeed received medication from the center accused of doling out performance-enhancing drugs, but would not specify what.
The report noted,
“The story Sly said he made up contained at least a bit of truth, though: The Guyer Institute did ship medication to Ashley Manning, Fleischer confirmed. Citing Ashley’s right to privacy, Fleischer declined to specify whether the medication was human growth hormone, which is banned by professional sports leagues and only legal to prescribe in America for a few specific conditions, such as growth hormone deficiency, HIV wasting syndrome and short bowel syndrome.”
Peyton Manning has vigorously denied all charges, but sources close to the NFL said an investigation is still likely.
So while she may be connected to a potential scandal, Ashley Manning has remained mostly out of the public eye. The family is rarely seen in public together, though sometimes Peyton and his twins — a boy named Marshall and a girl named Mosley — have been seen together on the field after games.
There may be no avoiding the spotlight during Super Bowl 50. With rampant speculation that he will retire after this season, Peyton Manning along with wife Ashley Manning and their twins will most assuredly end up getting plenty of camera time.
[AP Photo/David Zalubowski]