Manning says he's lucky to be playing after neck injury

Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:23pm EST
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning knows exactly how lucky he is to be playing in this weekend's Super Bowl. The way Manning sees it, he is blessed just to be playing in the National Football League.

Not long ago, Manning's brilliant career looked like it could be over after he missed the entire 2011 season to undergo surgery on his neck.

Already in his mid 30s after a Hall of Fame-worthy career that included a Super Bowl win with the Indianapolis Colts, even Manning was resigned to the idea his playing days were over.

"If that was going to be the end of it because of a neck injury," he told reporters on Thursday, "I really, believe it or not, had a peace about it."

Manning wasn't the only one who thought his days in the NFL were finished. His younger brother Eli, quarterback of the New York Giants, was also skeptical that he could come back.

"I saw him after that first surgery," Eli told the NFL Network on Wednesday. "And I was pretty much convinced that he was done. "There was no way he could come back and play football."

The Colts were also unsure and with college quarterback Andrew Luck available to them in the NFL Draft decided to release their best player.

Manning was fortunate that there were plenty of teams still willing to take a chance on him and luckier still that he chose well when he agreed to join the Broncos.   Continued...

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) does a stretching exercise during their practice session for the Super Bowl at the New York Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine