Peyton Manning certainly did his part to take some distraction away immediately upon arriving in New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII.
At his first press conference of the week, he told the media that he intends to return for the 2014 season whether or not the Denver Broncos win 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,” Manning said. “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.”
Manning will be entering his third full season post neck surgery, and will collect $20 million.
“A number of players have walked away as champions,” Manning said. “I’m sure that’s a great feeling for those people. John Elway. Ray Lewis did it last year. Michael Strahan.”
“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.”
It would be extremely difficult for Manning to hang up the cleats after a record-setting 5,477 yard passing year with 55 touchdowns.
Although Manning wouldn’t say, you have to wonder if he wants one more Super Bowl ring than his brother, Eli. A win for Peyton this year would at least tie them in championship titles.
Manning is playing the best football of his career, and retiring after this season would always leave that question mark in his mind. Could he have thrown for 56 touchdowns in 2014? Luckily, we’ll get to see how the story plays out.