Peyton Manning to mull future later; 'priorities' take precedence

ByJeff Legwold ESPN logo
Monday, February 8, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Still basking in the glow of his second Super Bowl win, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said he would not rush in making a decision about retirement, but "I'll be at peace, whichever way it goes."

Manning, 39, certainly didn't have his best statistical night, but he said the offense "did our part" in Denver's24-10 victoryover the Carolina Pantherson Sunday in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium.

After it was over, Manning said he wasn't ready to say what comes next.

"I don't know the answer to that," Manning said. "I talked to [former NFL coach Tony Dungy] last week, and he called me [and said] 'I need to talk to you.' ... He got some good advice about not making an emotional decision, one way or the other. I thought that was good advice."

Manning's first order of business was to enjoy his second Super Bowl win after a season in which he battled a left foot injury, missed seven starts and, at one point in December, was running the scout-team offense during practice.

"The night's just beginning. I look forward to celebrating with my friends, my family," Manning said. "I think I'll take some time after that."

Speaking while holding the Super Bowl trophy on the stage after the game, Manning said it had been "an emotional week, an emotional night, and I've got a couple of priorities."

"I want to go kiss my wife, kiss my kids. I want to go celebrate with my family and teammates, and I'm going to drink a lot of beer. ... Von Miller is buying," Manning said. "Those are my priorities at this point. I'll take some time to reflect. And I'm going to say a prayer and a thank-you to the man upstairs for this opportunity as well."

After he dealt with injuries to close out the past three seasons (ankle injuries in 2013, thigh injury in 2014, foot injury this season), there will be a tug from some in Manning's inner circle for him to call it a Hall of Fame career.

Archie Manning told ESPN's Ian O'Connor that he hopes to talk to Peyton this week or next about retirement. Archie Manning said his son "would have to go to another team" and seemed doubtful Peyton would do that at his age.

"I've got 200-something texts on my phone, a lot of friends, and everybody wants him to retire," Archie Manning said. "Nine out of 10 people feel that way. This has kind of come to a head. A lot of things are pointing toward what everyone wants him to do."

Manning's mother was more direct.

"I would like Peyton to retire. I would," Olivia Manning told ESPN's O'Connor and the Los Angeles Times.

When asked why, she said: "Well, we're on top, and physically, I just don't think it's worth going on. You won a Super Bowl. That's the best way to go out."

When Manning was pulled from the team's Nov. 15 game against the Kansas City Chiefs because of the foot injury -- he threw four interceptions in that game -- he led the league in interceptions.

It took him almost two months to get back in the lineup; he went back behind center in the third quarter of the regular-season finale and played all three of the Broncos' playoff games.

Manning was 13-of-23 passing for 141 yards with an interception Sunday. He threw for 222 yards and 176 yards, respectively, in the Broncos' two other postseason wins.

"Being hurt, struggling early in the season wasn't a lot of fun," Manning said. "I was grateful to get back healthy and try to play my part these last couple weeks."

Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway repeatedly said he expected Manning to take some time to decide. Elway and the Broncos asked Manning to take a $4 million cut in base salary before the season, but Manning made it back through $2 million bonuses for the team's wins in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl 50.

"I think he is probably just soaking it in," Elway said. "There is so much hard work, and it is such a long season that to be able to win the world championship and exhale and say, 'We are world champs,' is a great feeling. I'm sure he's enjoying it."

Manning, who played his first 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer in waiting. He went to Denver as a free agent in 2012 and contributed the most prolific season by any quarterback in history in 2013. The Broncos have made two Super Bowl trips in Manning's past three seasons.

Manning is a five-time MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, a 14-time Pro Bowl selection and a seven-time first team All-Pro. His team has made the playoffs in 15 of his 18 seasons. He had 15 4,000-yard passing seasons, and of the three seasons in league history in which a quarterback threw at least 48 touchdown passes, Manning has two.

In the Broncos' record-setting 2013 season, when the team scored a single-season-record 606 points -- the first time in league history that a team topped 600 -- Manning set single-season records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55).

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