NEWARK, N.J. – Peyton Manning played along.
Manning is known for being very serious about football, but as we know from commercials, “Saturday Night Live” and some of his press conference answers, the Broncos quarterback has a personality too.
On Super Bowl media day, he had a smile and a funny answer for all the questions that came his way, including throwing in his now-signature audible call when asked to give a message to the troops overseas.
“We're all praying for you, and ... Omaha!” he said.
He revealed that on his traditional carpool to the stadium on game days with a few teammates, the music channel is usually set to "Coffee House," the smooth acoustic rock station on XM Sirius Radio.
“I don’t know how that’s going to damage our reputation,” Manning said. “But it’s good music! I like it.”
Manning probably would have rather spent the hour studying the secondary of his Super Bowl XLVIII opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, but media day is part of the Super Bowl experience. And he seems like he wants to savor the entire lead-up.
This is his third Super Bowl, and he knows at 37 that he can’t count on ever being in another one. So as he sat there answering questions – one from Super Bowl media day fixture Ines Sainz of TV Azteca followed right away by a couple from former NFL receiver-turned-analyst Randy Moss – it could have been worse. There are 30 starting quarterbacks who weren’t answering silly questions at Super Bowl media day.
“To be here is special,” Manning said. “It has been fun to be a part of this team.”
Manning was the star of the Broncos’ session. There were 24 cameras or tripods and 40-50 reporters gathered around his table … and that was an hour and 10 minutes before the Broncos’ media session started. Coach John Fox’s table was the next one over, and at the same time reporters were camping out for Manning, there was one unmanned camera and no reporters at Fox’s table.
Manning is the biggest story of this Super Bowl. Whether he wins or loses will be an indictment or a validation to many of his legacy (he didn’t touch a question about that during media day) and he’s also looking to cap what will likely go down as the greatest single season in NFL history. There will probably be more support for him as the greatest quarterback of all time if the Broncos win on Sunday.
And as the biggest story, he sat there answering questions about what players eat before games and his opinions on television shows from waves and waves of reporters.
He also discussed the difference between winning and losing on Sunday, but not in terms of the circular argument about his legacy. Rather, he talked about the long-lasting effect winning a championship on the team as a whole.
He mentioned that when the Broncos played at Oakland earlier this season, the Raiders honored the 30th anniversary of the 1983 team’s Super Bowl win. That planted a seed.
"Boy, it really impacted our team," Manning said. "Coach Fox made a point that those guys will always have that bond, no matter where they live, how much hair they’ve lost, how much weight they’ve gained, they will always have that bond."
Manning mentioned that the 10th anniversary of his only championship, with the 2006 Colts, is coming up faster than he’d probably like. And like any number of things, it got Manning thinking what he'll be doing in three years when it comes up.
“That does make me feel quite old," Manning said. "I’m not sure you can still be playing and still go to a reunion in the NFL, so maybe that’s the time I should be out of the NFL by then."
Manning mentioned a few times what a great accomplishment it was for the team to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII. Winning it would mean a whole lot more.
"In my 16th season, this is the third one I’ve been a part of," Manning said. "I know how hard it is to get here. To win it would be an extremely gratifying feeling to represent the organization. There is a ton of hard work and sacrifice that goes in just to get into this game. To win it would be very special."
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