Peyton Manning arrived in New Jersey for the Super Bowl and he sounded like anything but a guy who’s planning to hang it up after this season.
“Well, I know there’s a number of players that have walked away as champions, and I’m sure that’s a great feeling for those people. John Elway, Ray Lewis did it last year, Michael Strahan,” Manning said in a press conference on board the Cornucopia Sunday evening in Jersey City. “In talking to Ray Lewis and in talking to John Elway, they couldn’t play anymore. That was all they had to give. They truly left it all out there.
“I certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury, with changing teams, and so I truly have been kind of a one-year-at-a-time basis. So I really have no plans beyond this game, had no plans coming into this season beyond this year. I think that’s the healthy way to approach kind of your career at this stage.”
He did, however, sound as if he’s given it a lot of thought and earlier this month he conceded that he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Manning, of course, has played two seasons with the Denver Broncos since missing all of the 2011 season and undergoing multiple procedures, including fusion of his vertebra. Recently, it was reported that his contract stipulates that he undergo an examination in March and that, if doctors didn’t like what tests showed, he would quit. Manning, though, wasn’t asked about that and he sounded like a guy who, despite facing his 38th birthday in late March, still has plenty left in the tank for next season. Why wouldn’t he? The Broncos are loaded with talent, Manning has ample protection on the field and he’s coming off the best season any quarterback has had statistically.
“I still enjoy playing football. I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point coming off that surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it,” he said. “Everybody enjoys the games, everybody’s going to be excited to play in a Super Bowl, but I think when you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you probably still ought to be doing that. I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can’t produce, if I can’t help the team, that’s when I’ll stop playing. If that’s next year, maybe it is, but I certainly want to continue to keep playing.”