Broncos star quarterback still plans to play on, even if his side beats the Seattle Seahawks.
Peyton Manning shrugged off any notion that he might retire if he guides the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl 48 victory, saying that he wants to keep playing.
The 37-year-old star quarterback who enjoyed a record-setting campaign this season would match his younger brother Eli with a second Super Bowl crown if the Broncos beat Seattle Seahawks in next Sunday’s championship game.
“I still enjoy playing football,” said Manning. “I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can’t produce, if I can’t help a team, that’s when I will stop playing.
“If that’s next year, then maybe it is. I certainly want to continue to keep playing.”
Manning underwent four neck surgeries and was released two years ago by the Indianapolis Colts, whom he led to a 2007 Super Bowl win over Chicago.
“I certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury and with changing teams,” Manning said. “I’ve been truly on a one-year-at-a-time basis.
“So I really have no plans beyond this game. I had no plans coming into this season beyond this year. I think that it is the healthy way to approach your career at this stage.”
Healthy is the key word for Manning.
“I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point, coming off that surgery,” Manning said. “I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. When you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you ought to be still doing that.”
So even if the chance comes, he isn’t thinking about leaving the NFL in the glory of a Super Bowl title, the way Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis did last year or Denver star quarterback John Elway, now a Broncos executive, did in 1999 in the team’s most recent Super Bowl appearance.
“I know that there have been a number of players who have walked away as champions. I’m sure that it is a great feeling for those people,” Manning said.
“In talking to Ray Lewis, and talking to John Elway, they couldn’t play anymore. It was all they had to give. They truly left it all out there. I still enjoy playing.”
Manning led Denver to a one-season NFL record 606 points, 17 more than the old mark set by the Tom Brady-led 2007 New England Patriots.
Manning completed 55 touchdown passes, breaking Brady’s season NFL mark of 50 from 2007. And Manning’s 5,477 passing yards were one more than the old mark set by Drew Brees of New Orleans in 2011.
“You would think after a season like this he would want to play 10 more years,” Denver cornerback Champ Bailey said.
“I can tell you: Peyton is not worried a lot about his legacy right now… He knows we have got a lot of work to do.”
Manning’s work ethic and hunger to play has fired the flames for Broncos receiver Wes Welker as well.
“You can just tell he enjoys it and he loves it,” Welker said. “He loves being around the guys. He loves the game planning. He loves Sundays. It’s great to see and it definitely inspires me.”