ENGLEWOOD | Peyton Manning’s preparation for a game was legendary, right down to the tiniest of details.
So it’s not too surprising the Denver Broncos quarterback will miss the little things about the game as he bid farewell on Monday after an 18-year NFL career.
“You don’t have to wonder if I’ll miss it. Absolutely, I will,” Manning said in an emotional goodbye. “Our children are small now, but as they grow up, we’re going to teach them to enjoy the little things in life, because one day they’ll look back and discover those were really the big things.”
Here are some of the little things Manning will miss most after a career that included two Super Bowls wins and a record 71,940 yards passing:
The relationships formed in the locker room are unlike any other, because, as offensive lineman Ryan Harris explained it, “We have quite the water-cooler conversations and jokes. I don’t think you can replicate that anywhere.”
Not to mention plane rides after victories, with “53 teammates standing in the aisles laughing and celebrating,” Manning mused.
And no meal tastes quite as sweet as one after a win, especially steaks at St. Elmo’s in Indianapolis. After Manning mentioned the restaurant, the renowned steakhouse gave him a shout out as well, tweeting: “We will miss those victory dinners too, Peyton.”
THOSE PESKY DEFENSES
Manning enjoyed matching wits against the best on the other side of the ball. He specifically mentioned players such as John Lynch, Zach Thomas, Ray Lewis, London Fletcher, Brian Urlacher, Ed Reed, Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu, Charles Woodson and the late Junior Seau.
And those coaches, too, like Bill Belichick, Dick LeBeau, Rex Ryan and, of course, Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
“Every moment, every drop of sweat, every bleary-eyed night of preparation, every note I took, every frame of film I watched was about one thing — reverence for this game,” Manning said. “There were other players who were more talented. But there was no one who could out-prepare me. Because of that, I have no regrets.”
FAMILY FOOTBALL TALKS
After a game, Manning would call his father, Archie, and rehash everything that happened. Then he would talk to his brother, Eli, to see how the Giants fared. Manning choked up talking about how much those moments meant to him.
“There is no way to measure or properly express what a family like mine can mean,” Manning said.
BRADY VS. MANNING
Those contests with Tom Brady will be missed, especially the postgame handshakes. They met 17 times, with Manning going 6-11 against his rival. Half of those wins were in AFC championship games.
Manning will even miss those games against New England in Foxborough.
“They should miss me because they sure did get a lot of wins off of me,” Manning said.
No one took more pride in spending countless hours in the film room than Manning. It made for some late nights for teammates, who didn’t want to leave until their QB exited the building.
“You can’t say quarterback without Manning,” linebacker Von Miller said. “It just goes together.”