In his first media interview of Super Bowl week, Manning reflected on the idea of retiring as a champion and talked about his future, as Mike Klis of The Denver Post relayed:
A number of players have walked away as champions...I'm sure that's a great feeling for those people. John Elway. Ray Lewis did it last year. Michael Strahan.
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.
I think when you still enjoy the preparation, the work part of it, I think you still ought to be still doing that. 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.
John Elway and the rest of Denver's front office must like the sound of that. As long as Manning is playing, this team has a chance to compete for a championship—just like it's about to do against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.
After the regular season, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported sources saying Manning would return in 2014, provided he passed his physical exam in March, per his contract. His recent comments suggest he isn't concerned about passing that physical, and it's not hard to see why.
His 2013 campaign was magnificent. Manning broke NFL single-season marks for total passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55) while leading the Broncos to a 13-3 record and Super Bowl berth. To put up those numbers at 37 is even more amazing.
Manning and the Broncos have their stiffest test to date in front of them, though, as the Seattle Seahawks feature the league's top-ranked scoring defense and most dangerous secondary. It's a battle the Broncos can certainly win, but it will just as surely take a stellar performance from Manning to pull it off.
Some, like Woody Paige of The Denver Post, believe Manning will become the greatest quarterback of all time with the win:
With a victory in the Super Bowl, Peyton no longer is The Manning Who Would Be King.
Peyton's Peak will be a mile high.
Move over, Pike. Say it's so, Joe. Accept it, Dan, Brett & Bart, Tom & Terry, Slingin' Sammy and Automatic Otto and John Elway and Johnny Unitas.
If Manning and the Broncos win, No. 18, all things considered, will be the No. 1 quarterback in the history of the NFL.
Manning will be a natural as a broadcaster or TV personality, but there are still records to chase. Brett Favre leads the way with 71,838 passing yards and 508 touchdowns. Manning is No. 2 in both categories, with 64,964 yards and 491 TDs.
Win or lose in the Super Bowl, Manning's statements are reassuring for the team's chances in 2014.
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