Let the debate be over.
Any questions about Peyton Manning and whether the future Hall of Fame quarterback will hang up his cleats after Super Bowl XLVIII are now moot, as late Sunday the Denver Post reported that Manning will return to the Denver Broncos for the 2014 season. … period.
“A number of players have walked away as champions,” Manning said, referring to players such as Ray Lewis and Broncos VP of Football Operations John Elway, both of whom retired after Super Bowl victories. “I still enjoy playing football. I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point coming off that (neck fusion) surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the game. Everybody is going to be excited to play in the Super Bowl.
“I think when you still enjoy the preparation, the work part of it, I think you sought to be still doing that. When I stop enjoying it, when I can’t produce, when I can’t help the team, that’s when I’ll stop playing. If that’s next year, maybe it is. I certainly want to continue to keep playing.”
And why should his career to an end with a win or just an appearance in the Super Bowl?
Manning, 37, has tossed 59 touchdown passes and threw for more than 6,100 yards this season, resulting in the Broncos going 15-3 and earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC and — in all likelihood — regular-season MVP honors. And financially speaking, he’s due $20 million in guaranteed money for 2014, and is his contract includes two more years after that.
Previously, ESPN reported that Manning would make a decision on his future based on a March physical exam, mandated by his contract, that would determine whether his neck is healthy enough to continue playing. Manning underwent four procedures on his neck after his final season with the Indianapolis Colts, so this clause was included with his deal with Denver in order to ensure his health.
If the exam indicated his neck was not stable and the quarterback was susceptible to increased injury, Manning would be forced to retire, according to the report.