Peyton Manning would leave all this behind only if a doctor told him to. (Mark Humphrey / AP)

There was a bit of a stir a couple of weeks ago when it was reported that Peyton Manning’s future in football would hinge on an offseason exam of his neck, the neck on which he has had multiple surgeries and fusion.

Manning sat down with Chris Mortensen, the ESPN reporter whose report helped create that stir, and explained a few things about his future as he pointed out that, thanks to Mortensen, his exam in March won’t be a private affair.

“I have a physical in March that I have every year. I’m sure that. I’ll have a crowd there at the MRI. ‘He’s going in,'” Manning said. “I hope at that physical that everything comes out okay, but, let me say this, if for whatever reason in that examination, the doctor were to say, ‘I’m not sure about this,’ I am not going to argue with him or tell him, ‘Well, Doc, if you look at it, turn it this way, it’s not quite as bad…’  If the doctor or somebody says, ‘Hey, I’m not so sure it’s the right thing,’ then it’s not even a discussion.'”

Manning, who will turn 38 in March, will try to become the second oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl on Sunday. The oldest, of course, is his boss in Denver, John Elway. After winning his second in a row, Elway retired, but Manning isn’t Elway.

“I’ve talked to John about that and John, the way he’s explained it to me, truly wanted to play but physically just did not feel like his body could do it,” Manning said. “He truly was on his last leg. I’m not sure I’ve reached my full potential, Mort. I think I’m still learning some things here in my latter years about quarterback play and so I’m kind of trying to improve as a football player.”

Maybe he was just joking about that last bit, but why wouldn’t Manning return in 2014, if doctors give him the go-ahead? He just had the greatest season statistically of any quarterback, he’s virtually encased in bubblewrap behind his offensive line and he’s surrounded by talent. Look out, Tom Brady, if he wins this one, he may well take his shot at winning three Super Bowls.