If he needs inspiration, all he has to do is remember what his brother went through at a similar point in his career.
Peyton missed the entire 2011 season after neck surgery, ending his consecutive starts streak at 208 games (227 including the playoffs). He was released by the Indianapolis Colts before signing with the Denver Broncos as a highly coveted free agent, though there was concern over whether the then-37-year-old quarterback could produce.
“I saw what he went through with that injury and how he changed his game a little bit at 37,” Manning said Tuesday at a camp sponsored by Gatorade’s Beat the Heat initiative at Kean University. He turned 37 on Jan. 3.
All Peyton did in 2012 was lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record and collect Comeback Player of the Year honors. The following season, he had career highs in completions (450), yards (5,477), and touchdowns (55) to go along with his fifth league Most Valuable Player award while leading the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII. Peyton ended his career with a victory in Super Bowl 50.
“He may not have been able to make all the throws he used to make at 25, but he still had one of his best years ever,” Manning said. “He had a great supporting cast around him, played smart football, and worked extremely hard those offseasons to get his body ready and his arm ready.”
No. 10 is used to being doubted. It’s something he’s had to contend with since entering the NFL, especially when his career is compared to his brother’s. The doubt is magnified when Manning is compared to his contemporaries (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers) who are producing at a high level despite advanced age.
It may be reasonable to doubt Manning but unwise. After all, he has thrown for 51,682 yards and 339 touchdowns in his career. He’s won eight postseason games, two Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVPs, and has been selected to four Pro Bowls. This was accomplished, for the most part, without a great deal of offensive firepower. His brother and contemporaries, individual greatness notwithstanding, always had more weapons to work with.
The Giants enter 2018 with perhaps their most potent offense in the Manning era. They upgraded the offensive line with the signings of Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh in free agency and selection of Will Hernandez in the second round of the NFL Draft. They will open the holes for rookie running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants receiving corps gets an immediate upgrade with the return of Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the final eleven games of the regular season.
“You see that there doesn’t have to be a drop-off in play making ability and running an offense and winning football games,” Manning said. “You have to work extremely hard, but great things can happen.”
Manning may also have a chip on his shoulder. His own consecutive start streak of 210 regular season games (222 including playoffs) ended last season. There was talk of the team selecting a quarterback in the first round before they ultimately selected Barkley. Even with the vote of confidence from management, he still has much to prove in training camp and this season.
“It’s still an excitement to prove to yourself that you should still be doing this,” Manning said. “I look forward to it. I work hard all this summer to get ready for the upcoming season and get ready for training camp, and I know I can perform at a high level and win football games.”
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.