Peyton Manning, 38, had a legendary career in Indianapolis. But, like so many superstars do, the former No. 1 overall pick parted ways with his original team — after his career peaked and then crashed due to an injury — and tried to keep it going in a new city. After 14 seasons with the Colts and three with the Broncos, Chris Mortensen has reported that Manning will be back next season.
Manning has broken many records during his career, but he also came close to all but breaking his neck, which would have ended his career, if not more, right then. Bulging disks that required multiple surgeries made him miss the first game of his career, followed by 15 more.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Manning Has Had Four Neck Surgeries Since 2010
Manning had four neck surgeries in under two years to relieve pain from bulging disks.
According to Bleacher Report, the most extensive of these surgeries came in the form of an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. This was done to fix a cervical intervertebral disk — the cushion between vertebrae — that had become so worn down that the nucleus in the center, full of nerves, begins to herniate and leak out. This causes a lot of pain as the vertebrae put pressure directly on the unprotected nerves. Along with pain, this can cause weakness and numbness in the neck, arms and shoulders — all of which are essential when it comes to throwing a football. In the surgery, the worn down disk is removed and metal is used to fuse together the vertebrae directly above and below, creating stability. However, the wear like this can occur in different vertebrae, especially in Manning’s case where he has continued the same actions that caused it in the first place. During the recovery from this procedure, the muscles have to heal and regain strength just as much as the spine does.
This surgery resulted in Manning missing the entire 2011 season. In the article, Manning’s brother Eli said he was doubtful that Peyton would be able to gain enough strength to ever play again.
Yeah, and I saw him after that first surgery, this neck surgery, and I was pretty much convinced that he was done. There was no way he could come back and play football. That first time he went and we were just throwing it in the backyard of our house. We’re throwing 15 yards away, and it was a lob. He couldn’t throw 15 yards on a line. It had no pop. I was like, I mean — he wanted to come back and play football, and I didn’t think it would happen.
So far, Manning’s surgeries have been enough to give him an extra three seasons and his third Super Bowl appearance.
2. Manning Has Broken Multiple Records Over His Career
While Manning’s career can’t last forever, he has plastered his name all over the record book.
The holder of dozens of records, his most recent came on October 19, 2013, when he broke Brett Favre’s record for most career touchdowns. The current record, belonging to Manning, stands at 530.
Some of his other league records include:
Most touchdown passes in a season (55)
Most seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards (14)
Most passing yards in a season (5,477)
Most games with at least 40 pass attempts in a season (10)
Most consecutive seasons with at least 25 touchdown passes (13)
Most games with a perfect passer rating in a career (4, including one in the playoffs)
Most consecutive games started to open a career (208)
Most consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes (13)
Most consecutive games with at least four touchdown passes (5)
Most games with at least four touchdown passes in a season (8)
Most regular season games with at least four touchdown passes in a career (25)
Most games with at least five touchdown passes (8, including one in the playoffs)
Most games with at least five touchdown passes and no interceptions in a career (5)
Only quarterback with at least six touchdown passes in three games
Only quarterback with at least six touchdown passes and no interceptions in three games
Most regular season games with at least 300 passing yards (84)
Most regular and post season games with at least 300 passing yards (93)
Most games with at least 400 passing yards and no interceptions (6)
Most career touchdown passes in Thursday games (32)
Most touchdown passes in a single Thursday game (7)
Largest career touchdown-interception differential (272)
Highest career passing touchdowns per game average with a minimum of 150 touchdown passes (2.046)
Most career games with a completion percentage of at least 70 percent with a minimum of 10 attempts (66)
Most consecutive regular season wins as a starter (23)
Most seasons with at least ten regular season wins as a starter (14)
Most seasons with at least twelve regular season wins as a starter (11)
Only quarterback with nine consecutive seasons with at least ten wins as a starter
Only quarterback with seven consecutive seasons with at least twelve wins as a starter
Only quarterback to win five consecutive fourth quarter comebacks
Most fourth quarter comeback wins in a season (7)
First quarterback to defeat each of the other 31 teams in regular season games
Most regular season wins as a starting quarterback in a decade (115)
Most regular and post season wins as a starting quarterback in a decade (124)
Most AP NFL MVP Awards (5)
Most touchdown passes in a decade (314)
Most passing yards in a decade (42,254)
Most completions in a decade (3,575)
3. Manning is From a Football Family
Peyton is the second of Archie Manning’s three sons. His younger brother, Eli, is also an NFL quarterback.
Archie was an NFL quarterback, too. Best known for his time with the Saints, he also played for the Oilers and Vikings. The Saints took Archie second overall in the 1971 draft. While he never won a Super Bowl, Archie’s No. 8 has been retired by the Saints. Archie is one of two quarterbacks in Saints’ history who have been in Pro-Bowls, with Drew Brees being the other. Archie holds the team record for most interceptions thrown with 156.
Eli has more Super Bowl rings than everyone else in the family combined — two. He was taken by the Giants first overall in the 2004 draft, and has been with the team ever since. Currently, Eli is the Giants all-time leader in pass attempts, pass completions, passing touchdowns and passing yards. Eli was with the team when they won the Super Bowl in 2008, 17-14 over the Patriots, and in 2012, 21-17 again over the Patriots.
Peyton, Eli, oldest brother Cooper, and Archie run the Manning Passing Academy every summer. The five-day camp is a way for quarterbacks, tight ends, wide receivers and running backs to work on their skills.
Peyton, Eli and Archie also wrote a children’s book, Family Huddle, which is about the three brothers playing football as children.
4. Manning Started the Peyback Foundation in 1999
According to the foundation’s website, “Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning established the PeyBack Foundation in 1999 to promote the future success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for children at risk. … With this mission, the Foundation reaches out to children of all different backgrounds. Children need opportunities through which they can grow and learn. The Foundation strives to make these opportunities available to children who might not otherwise have the chance to participate and looks strongly upon abused and neglected children, boys & girls clubs, after-school programs, summer camps and foster children.”
The foundation is based in Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana — the states in which Manning has played football.
In Manning’s message on the website, he says, “My wife, Ashley, and I established the PeyBack Foundation in 1999 to promote the future success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for children at risk.”
5. Manning is Married and Has Two Kids
Ashley Thompson started dating Peyton when Peyton was a blue-chip recruit heading to the University of Tennessee. Ashley had grown up in Memphis, and her neighbor introduced her to Peyton.
She talked about the beginning of her relationship with Peyton in a lengthy 2006 profile in Indianapolis Woman magazine.
She was introduced to Peyton by her parents’ next-door neighbor the summer before Peyton’s freshman year in college.
The Mannings welcomed twins — a daughter named Mosley and a son named Marshall — in 2011. As this 2012 CBS Denver feature points out, neither Ashley nor the twins were at Peyton’s introductory press conference in Denver, continuing a tradition of staying out of the spotlight. But Peyton told the station his family as excited about the move to Denver.
“I think they’ll be just fine,” he told the station. “It’s a great place to live, so it will be exciting.”
Marshall got some time in front of the cameras in a 2012 interview (featured in the video above) his dad did about teammate Marvin Harrison.
“My entire family keeps me positive and they always support me,” Peyton told People magazine prior to the Super Bowl in February. “They will be coming to town to be with me. Without them, I would not be where I am today. I am very grateful.”