The day Peyton Manning decides to hang up his helmet for good will be a sad day, but, fortunately, that day is not today.
According to an interview Manning did with the Associated Press, he understands retirement is nearing, but he still has a lot left in him.
“Sometimes I sort of kick back and I pause and I think what sorts of things would I miss the most if I wasn’t playing,” he said.
But the answer seems to be pretty clear in Manning’s mind.
“Being in the huddle,” said the future hall of famer. “That’s what I missed the most when I was injured, I’ll say that. I mean, there’s no other type of unity or bond that I think any other job can provide. I know there are meetings, there are video conferences, but that huddle, because of where it takes place: it’s often on the road, in the middle of the field, in front of 80,000 people, it’s unique.”
For the last two decades, Manning has been the epitome of what it means to be a quarterback. If there’s ever been a smarter player in this league, I have yet to see him. Manning is a football lifer. When he retires, he’ll find a way to be a part of the NFL, but, to him, it won’t compare to that huddle.
“When you don’t play football anymore, you can broadcast, you can coach, you can be in management, whatever, but you are not allowed to go into the huddle anymore,” Manning said. “That huddle is just for players. You can go into the locker room after the game and you can speak to the team, but I think any retired player would probably tell you they miss the huddle.”
Some players find themselves dragging through the last few years of their careers, trying to get one last paycheck before they retire to the Bahamas, but, again, that’s not Manning. He still loves what he does.
“I like the guys that I get to work with,” said Manning. “I like lifting weights, working with Wes Welker, doing a set of bench press with Jacob Tamme, I like working with the guys that I play with and I still like learning. I like being challenged by Adam (Gase) every day to be a better football player. There are a lot of things that I still enjoy about it.
“And I look forward to driving over here every day. I think as soon as you go, ‘Golly, I do not want to go over there today,’ that’s when you’ve got to get out.”
Manning may be getting old – I mean, he uses the word “golly” – but he still has plenty left in the tank.
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