Peyton Manning was introduced as the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos and two things were abundantly clear: The Broncos expect him to win a Super Bowl now and Manning believes he can play as well as he ever has.
Read on for a quick, select transcript of the press conference in Englawood, Colo.
Twenty minutes late, the party begins as Broncos owner Pat Bowlen steps to the mid. Bowlen points out that the Broncos’ goal is to win Super Bowls and Manning gives the team that chance. (Um, no, not you, Tim Tebow.)
At 3:31 p.m., John Elway, the team’s vice-president and Hall of Fame quarterback (who has twice as many of those Super Bowl rings as Peyton Manning), has glowing words for Bowlen and his commitment to winning Super Bowls.
Hey, no pressure, Peyton!
“I believe he’s got a lot of great football left in him,” Elway said, adding that Manning is a Hall of Famer. “My goal is to make Peyton Manning the best quarterback ever to play the game.”
3:24 p.m.: Everyone holds the orange No. 18 jersey and poses for photos and then Manning speaks and says he’s committed to winning in the “special environment” in Denver.
“In the end, I felt the Broncos were just a great fit.”
Manning takes No. 18 from Frank Tripucka, the first quarterback in Broncos’ history. He approved giving the number, retired since 1963, to Manning. “It’s perfectly OK for him to go ahead and use it,’’ he told the Denver Post. “I would be honored to have him wear it.’’
After thanking all the Broncos’ brass, Manning thanks Tripucka.
3:29 p.m.: Manning speaks of watching Elway as a quarterback and now as the executive who is leading the organization. Still, this is all going to take some adjustment time for Manning. “This is all new to me,” Manning says, pointing out that he has spent his entire career with one team. Manning says he’s sorry that the “process” took so long and tied up so many teams, says he’ll have to rely on Elway and Coach John Fox to help him settle in quickly and adjust.
Manning, who will turn 36 Saturday, points out that Elway will be a “resource” as a quarterback who was a winner after the age of 35.
3:35 p.m.: The goal is to win a Super Bowl, Manning is asked? “That’s why we all play this game. There’s no questions about that. It’s why we work hard, why we lift weights, why we work hard in the offseason....I know I don’t have 15 years left to play football. ... I feel that sense of urgency.”
And, the million-dollar question: How is his health? Has he recovered from the neck surgeries? “There’s no question I still have work to do. I have been open with the Broncos and all the teams [who wanted him]. I’ve put all the cards on the table with all the teams. I had to let them tell me this is something they wanted to do. ... I’m not where I want to be. I want to be where I was before I was injured. I have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be from a health standpoint and [to learn] this offense.”
Manning said he didn’t discuss Tim Tebow with the Broncos. “ I know what kind of player and person Tim Tebow is. If he’s here next year, I’m going to be the best teammate I can be.”
Interestingly, Manning says he didn’t know until the day before his Indianapolis press conference that he was leaving the Colts for sure. (Guess he wasn’t Googling “Manning” and “Irsay.”)
3:44 p.m.: Yet another million-dollar question: Could he play if there were a game Sunday?
“I could. I don’t know if I could play as well as I’d like, but I could do it. I don’t know if you’d call it high standards or what, but I’m not where i want to be. It’s March; I have a hard time reminding myself of that. [The training staff] will remind me of that; they’ll set out a plan for me.”
At just shy of 36, Manning knows the work that lies ahead, no matter how much he missed the game sitting out last year. “I know what a challenge I’m in for. In some ways my body will be fresher and will be rested. Some parts of my body will be healthier from not taking hits for a year, but I know it’s a challenge.”
Once again, that three-letter word — now — comes up. “This is a ‘now’ situation.”
At 3:51 p.m., Manning departs, turning the podium over to Elway, who admits that, when Manning phoned to tell him and Fox of his decision, Fox started jumping around for joy.
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