ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — At 37 years old, Peyton Manning is only a year younger than John Elway was when he stepped away from the game. Elway had just won the second of back-to-back Super Bowls and was able to ride off into the twilight on top.
Whether or not that thought has crossed Manning’s mind is something Elway isn’t entirely sure of.
“Having been a football player before, when you leave this game, you want to leave it on your last leg, and try not to leave anything on the table.”
Two years removed from his fourth neck surgery, Manning threw for an NFL-record 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards this season. By the time Elway retired in 1998, he no longer had a lateral meniscus in his left knee.
“Anybody that’s a competitor, that’s kind of the way they want to leave the game,” Elway said. “I was just fortunate to be able to be on two great football teams and be able to win world championships when my last leg broke.”
Manning spoke about his relationship with Elway, saying that for the most part Elway does his best not to impose, but as a quarterback, it’s hard for Manning not to soak up some of Elway’s experience.
“I think being an ex-quarterback, he has been a great resource,” Manning said. “He doesn’t come to our quarterback meetings. He’s not on the phone with me during the game. I think he wants to make that clear that it’s his job to hire good people to communicate with me on those ends.
“At the same time, I think you’d be crazy not to ask a quarterback with his experience questions. It was kind of the same way growing up. My dad was never my coach by any means, but when you enjoy playing quarterback and you want to learn about the position, you try to use resources around you.
“I’ve asked John a number of questions and he’s provided me with knowledge or tidbits from experiences that he’s had. He’s been very helpful that way. Then, like all players, he’s been extremely supportive of players he’s picked for this team. You certainly appreciate that.”