Two years after undergoing four neck surgeries, Peyton Manning has been named the 2013 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
The award made its debut in 1954, and recognizes an athlete, coach, or team that showcases exceptional athletic achievement. Only eight NFL players have won the award and Manning becomes Denver’s first recipient.
Manning won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award last season. This year, he’s guiding his offense which leads the league in total offense (453.4 ypg), passing (333.6 ypg), receiving (344.4 ypg), and points scored (535). Manning has 47 touchdowns, which puts him four away from breaking Tom Brady’s record for the most touchdowns thrown in a season.
Sports Illustrated’s managing editor Chris Stone sat down with the media to discuss Manning’s win.
“I think in the case of Peyton we’re talking about he’s been in three locations in his career since 1994—Knoxville, Indianapolis and mostly recently [and] obviously Denver, and in all of those places his body of work speaks for itself. But the emotional connection that he’s kind of established with each of those fan bases and those communities is exemplary,” Stone said.
Then Stone went on to describe the selection process.
“Back in October, towards the end of October, I gathered about 17 senior editors across our platforms at Sports Illustrated, including my boss, Paul Fichtenbaum, who is the head of the Time Inc. Sports Group, and we just kicked it around the room. I won’t say what the exact tally was, but there was a strong consensus, a very strong consensus for Peyton as this year’s Sportsman. A couple of weeks later, the Red Sox won the World Series the way that we won it and we rethought it a little bit. But we’re very comfortable and confident in our selection.
Other Sportsman of the Year winners include Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, the 2004 Boston Red Sox, and Wayne Gretzky.
Manning will be honored at a dinner Monday night.