Updates from Monday, Mar. 3
Mike Klis of The Denver Post reveals results from Peyton Manning's physical:
Peyton Manning has been fully cleared following physical. No neck issue. He's officially ready for 2014. Details at http://t.co/3H93t9zKqo— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 3, 2014
Updates from Sunday, Mar. 2
Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com has the latest on Peyton Manning's scheduled neck exam:
In what the Denver Broncos expect to be a no-news-is-good-news affair, quarterback Peyton Manning is scheduled to undergo his postseason exam Monday on his surgically-repaired neck.
Manning passed the required exit physical given to all of the team’s players in the days after the Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks as the players adjourned for the offseason. Monday’s exam is part of his contract and the Broncos expect to hear Manning is ready to go for the 2014 season.
Updates from Sunday, Jan. 26
Mike Klis of The Denver Post has the latest on Peyton Manning's future in Denver:
"I still enjoy playing football. I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point coming off that (neck fusion) surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the game. Everybody is going to be excited to play in the Super Bowl."
Wait for it. Manning finally delivered his intentions.
"I think when you still enjoy the preparation, the work part of it, I think you still ought to be still doing that," he said. "When I stop enjoying it, when I can't produce, when I can't help the team that's when I'll stop playing. If that's next year, maybe it is. I certainly want to continue to keep playing."
Even as Peyton Manning enters the 2014 NFL playoffs coming off the best statistical season of his career, the Denver Broncos quarterback's future in football may be more in question than previously thought.
Sources inside Manning's camp told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the likely NFL MVP will undergo an exam in March to determine the deterioration (or lack thereof) of his surgically repaired neck. Should new damage be found or if Manning is at a higher risk of playing than he was before the 2013 season began, the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer will be faced with a decision whether to risk playing or retire.
Manning plans on continuing to play if his neck is structurally sound, regardless of how the Broncos fare in the postseason. Denver, which has been the AFC's No. 1 seed in each of Manning's two seasons with the franchise, hosts the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 12 as the Broncos look to atone for their divisional-round loss last season.
Manning is hoping to avoid his ninth one-and-done postseason performance—an all-time record. But although he acknowledges the chances are fewer and farther between for a second Super Bowl ring, Manning was clear in his weekly press conference he still loves the game, via The Denver Post's Mike Klis.
"There is nothing else I would rather be doing," Manning said. "And so that is certainly my goal to enjoy the preparation, not just the game, to actually enjoy the preparation part of it, enjoy being around the guys."
It is unclear at this time whether the Broncos or Manning actually fear structural damage in his neck. The exam is part of the five-year, $96 million contract he signed after being released by the Indianapolis Colts before the 2012 season.
After the Broncos defeated the Chargers 24-17, Manning was asked about his future and provided some comic relief via Andrew Siciliano of the NFL Network:
Peyton asked if he thinks about his neck injury: "What's weighing on my mind is how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth after this win."— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 13, 2014
Manning spent his first 14 NFL seasons in Indianapolis, leading the Colts to 11 postseason appearances and a Super Bowl XLI victory over the Chicago Bears. However, Manning missed the 2011 season after undergoing four neck surgeries in a two-year span. The Colts subsequently went 2-14, earning the No. 1 draft pick, which they used on Andrew Luck.
Entering his late-30s, there were questions as to whether Manning would be able to ever return to the field—let alone reclaim his former excellence. Despite having never missed a game other than the 16 in 2011, neck injuries—especially ones as serious as Manning's—often scare teams away.
Nevertheless, John Elway and the Broncos took a chance on Manning and have undoubtedly reaped the rewards. Manning set the NFL record for passing touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477) this season while leading Denver to a 13-3 record.
Although passing records seem to be shattering at a yearly pace, Manning was unquestionably the best at his position by any metric. Football Outsiders' DYAR and DVOA stats, which adjust for opponent strength and other conditions, both had Manning as the NFL's best quarterback by a large margin.
He is expected to earn a fifth Associated Press MVP award, giving him two more than any player in league history. Sports Illustrated already named Manning its Sportsman of the Year, and he's been named to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams. He has also proven many doubters wrong about both his arm strength and ability to play in the cold, something he'll hope to do as Denver advances in the postseason.
Then again, skill has never been the question with Manning for those who pay attention. And as Denver attempts to eliminate the division rival Chargers and then Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the looming specter of Manning's examination in March could create even more intrigue for the stretch run.
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