Now that Peyton Manning’s comeback is complete, members of his family spoke this week about just how frightened they were for him as he struggled to regain his strength after having multiple surgeries on his neck.
“Over a year’s time there … one surgery after the other, as his parents, Olivia and I, we kind of quit thinking about football,” Archie Manning said on ESPN’s “Ian O’Connor Show.” “We were just worried about Peyton’s health and getting this thing straightened out.
“He finally had the fusion; they said it worked. Four different doctors cleared him to go back and play. … They said he can go play. We didn’t know how he could play at that position. I remember when he first started throwing, I mean, it was a 10-yard lob and you just don’t know. And you wonder, ‘Gosh, can he get back where he can throw in an NFL football game?'”
He was released by the Indianapolis Colts after missing the 2011 season, then signed with the Denver Broncos and, in his first season, passed for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns (with 11 interceptions). Early in his time in Denver, there were questions about his arm strong, but as he and the Broncos gained momentum, those questions subsided. They were put to rest for good last Thursday, when he passed for 462 yards and seven touchdowns.
Manning and the Broncos face his younger brother, Eli, and the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon and he had a close look at his brother’s irritation over the pace of his recovery.
“It just wasn’t the same. … It was frustrating and scary for him,” Eli told ESPN’s Ed Werder. “He would look at me and say, ‘What looks wrong? Why is it coming out without any pop?'”
Peyton Manning continued to maintain throughout the winter and spring of 2012 that doctors had told him he would recover when the nerve regenerated, but it was a little more frightening than he admitted.
“I knew it would get better with time,” Eli said, “but after several surgeries and you’re dealing with nerves — you didn’t know how quickly. That was the scary thing for him — he didn’t know how quickly it would get better.”