Denver Broncos executive John Elway asked Peyton Manning if would be able to return to the type of quarterback that made him a four-time NFL MVP.
“There is no doubt in my mind,” Manning replied, after sitting out the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury.
That statement helped sell Elway on Manning, according to The Denver Post.
After he passed his physical and everyone was confident in Manning’s ability to play at a high level, Elway, head coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders moved forward with landing the quarterback to a five-year, $96 million deal.
“It is tremendous,” Elway said. “The way I look at my life, all that other stuff happened as a player. Now, in my second career, my second life, this is without doubt the biggest (event) of this career.”
Physicians from the Broncos, Titans and 49ers, who were all finalists for Manning, examined his full medical history, as well as his neck, as a part of a full physical. Everyone cleared him to play.
“That’s what they tell me. The nice thing is that the doctors of three different teams have told me essentially the same thing. None of them blinked. Either they’re all idiots…,” Manning said, chuckling.
Manning is confident that he can return to the highest level of play, but he has a long way to go,
“It’s been awful,” Manning said. “It’s been real scary. Where I am now compared to where I’ve been, it’s just a long, long way. It’s been hard. I think I handled it really good. I’ve got a sense of peace about it and prayed about it a lot. When you’ve only known one way for 20 years, the more it comes back to what it feels like it’s supposed to feel, the better I feel.”
Manning knew that he wouldn’t play again unless he was healthy. During his lengthy recuperation following four neck procedures, he demanded straight answers from his doctors.
“If the doctors said, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t go out there,’ that’s it. That’s the end of it,” Manning said. “That’s a short conversation. I’ve kind of asked them to say that. It’s just not the case.Manning’s decision to sign with the Broncos came down to two key factors: Where did he feel most comfortable, and where did he believe he could win? He has his sights set on winning the Super Bowl for Denver.
“Two, three, four would be great too. I’d like as many as we can. The goal is to win,” Manning said. “I can’t tell you how it’s been weighing on me, this whole decision. But now I’m going to play with a tremendous obligation to them,” Manning said. “To (Elway), to Fox, to Mr. Bowlen. I don’t know the fans well, but I’ve always played that way. You’re playing because of what they did for you.”