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Like Peterson, Peyton Manning had to rebound from his own surgeries. Four to be exact. Manning was out for the entire 2011 season, attempting to fix nerve damage that blighted his throwing arm.
His return prompted an inevitable media frenzy, culminating in the Denver Broncos winning the race for his signature. They are certainly glad they did, as Manning has engineered a remarkable transformation.
In 2011, the Broncos ran a Tim Tebow-led offense. It was a ground-based attack, featuring a heavy dose of option runs.
In other words, it was the complete opposite of the timing-based, downfield passing offense Manning conducts. Yet in no time at all, he had the run-heavy Broncos looking like the Indianapolis Colts during his prime years.
Throwing to a receiving group lacking a true, standout No. 1 hasn't stopped Manning from dominating. He has thrown for 37 touchdowns and 4,659 yards, making everyone around him better.
His 105.8 rating proves Manning is still as accurate as ever, and he still has the arm to expose defenses deep. That's taken the Broncos from an 8-8 Wild Card team to a 13-3 powerhouse and AFC favourites.
Sadly, it seems to have become fashionable for some to hate on the idea of Manning as MVP. Whether this is because the 36-year-old has claimed the award four times previously is irrelevant.
Nothing should detract from a remarkable season from a player who has defied the limits of his body and the sands of time to return better than ever.