Peyton Manning is back, surrounded by fans and sporting a scar on the back of his neck. (Jack Dempsey / AP)

Peyton Manning is back on a football field for the first time in what seems like an eternity. The fans are back, even if they’re now Denver Broncos fans. Over 4,000 turned out to watch Day 1 of the Manning Era in Englewood, Colo.

There’s just one nagging question: how will Manning’s neck, on which he has had multiple procedures, hold up when he takes his first big hit?

“I have no concern over that,” Manning told ESPN’s Tom Jackson. “I’m not begging James Harrison to blindside me by any means, but I feel I’m going to be able to handle that.”

Manning’s doctors have assured him that his fused vertebrae will hold up and there’s no danger in playing again. Still, everyone will be watching for the first big hit he takes.

“James, I love you and don’t take this as a challenge now,” Manning said. “Go easy on me if you can.”

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