With his near-flawless performance in week one, Peyton Manning erased all doubts about whether the four-time MVP still had what it takes after missing last season with neck surgery. One person who wasn’t surprised? Broncos’ Executive Vice President (and Hall of Fame QB) John Elway, who let last year’s phenom Tim Tebow walk away in order to make room for Manning. Here, the two-time Super Bowl champ talks Peyton, Tebow, his campaign for Dove Men+Care, and whether he’s still got it.
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A lot of people doubted whether Peyton would be able to come back from such a serious injury. Are you surprised with how he played on Sunday?
To be honest with you, I was not. Having watched him progress from the time that he signed here into training camp, he made great strides. His arm strength came back, which didn’t really surprise me because I know what kind of guy he is and how important it was to him, coming off of a year that he didn’t play at all, to come back.
But before you signed him, what made you think he could do it? Because a lot of people didn’t.
Number one was the advice of the doctors, and the fact that there wasn’t a question in their minds that the strength was going to come back in his arm. So I figured, if we could land him, he still had a good four or five years of football left in him.
What did you do to convince him to come to Denver?
I didn’t really want to pressure him, I just wanted to show him what we had here. And because I played here for 16 years, and have lived here for 30, I could really tell him what we’re all about.
Do you think the fact that you’re a fellow QB helped?
Well, there’s no question that whenever you talk about quarterbacks there’s a certain fraternity, and I think he respected the fact that I probably know how he thinks, and vice versa. He knows that I came back to win a world championship, and that’s his goal too. He’s already a Hall of Famer, and will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Now he wants to collect some rings.
Still, it must have been tough letting Tebow go after all he did last year.
Yeah, it was. He did a tremendous job for us, going from 4-8 the year before to winning our division. But part of this business is making hard choices, and we felt that if it was a choice between Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning, Peyton was the way we should go. I mean, you’re talking about possibly the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
And now, after just one game, everyone’s saying the Broncos are a legitimate Super Bowl threat.
Well, you want to be in the hunt, or at least have your name thrown in there. But I think our expectations for ourselves were higher than those of others. But we have a real humdinger of a schedule, so it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves.
Peyton threw his 400th touchdown last week. You think he has a shot at Brett Favre’s record of 508?
I do, because he’s got a lot of football left in him. He’s got to stay healthy, but if he’s the Peyton of old, he could do it in three or four seasons. But I bet he’d take two Super Bowl wins over 500 touchdown passes.
How are you holding up? In your campaign for Dove Men+Care it sure looks like you can still throw the ball.
You know, I don’t get to throw the ball around that much, but when I do, the arm strength is still there. It’s not what it used to be, but I can still throw it pretty well. That’s why it was fun to see if I could throw it through the car window. That’s why I was proud to be a part of the campaign, especially at my age, because it’s about being comfortable in your own skin.
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