NEWARK, N.J. – Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos teammates took a defiant stand against the star quarterback's supposed dislike of cold weather on Tuesday, insisting the expected freezing Super Bowl XLVIII conditions will actually work to their advantage.
Suggestions that Manning struggles when it gets chilly gathered steam after a 34-31 overtime road defeat to the New England Patriots in November, but that theory met with similarly frosty responses from the Broncos at media day.
"He should be getting a lot more credit from a lot more people," snapped Broncos offensive lineman Orlando Franklin. "We practice each and every day outside so I don't see how that will be a big deal for him. It is definitely going to be a little bit cold but it is not going to be an issue for him."
According to the Denver Post, Manning was 0-2 in his career heading into the game at New England when temperatures were below 20 degrees, 2-5 when the thermometer read 20-29, and 6-5 when it climbed to 30-39. As of Tuesday, the game-time temperature for Sunday's showdown vs. the Seattle Seahawks was predicted to be 26 degrees.
It is worth remembering that Denver is not exactly the warmest of climates and despite the apparently damning statistics, Manning himself was confident that the elements would give his team the edge over the Seattle Seahawks.
"The weather will be what it is going to be," Manning said. "We have played in all kinds of conditions this year and I think it is going to help us.
"I played in MetLife stadium this year and I think that helped. I am glad our team had a chance to play there this year to be a little more familiar with the surroundings."
Critics have wondered whether it is more difficult for Manning to keep his surgically-repaired neck flexible in colder climates, but within the Broncos camp there is nothing but complete faith in No. 18.
The Peyton Freeze is not a topic this team likes discussing and it is a measure of the respect Manning commands that every player quizzed was swift to jump to his defense.
Backup QB Brock Osweiler stressed that he has never seen Manning visibly bothered by the cold, either at practice or in a game situation.
"The only thing I will say about that is that we play in Denver all the time and we practice in Denver all the time and obviously that is a cold-weather city," Osweiler said. "I think Peyton has certainly proved himself during multiple cold weather games this year and played tremendously well."
Coldest of the bunch was the Broncos' resounding 51-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans in December, which reached a low of 14 degrees on an afternoon when Denver clinched its place in the playoffs and Matt Prater blasted an NFL-record 64-yard field goal.
[Related: Manning enjoys all of media day's offerings]
For some members of the team, the cold weather is even preferable to playing in warmer conditions. "I love it and I wouldn't trade it for anything," said safety Michael Huff. "I go with no sleeves and that way I get to show my guns. There is something about the cold, you need more adrenaline. Every time you hit somebody you feel [the cold] – it is like numb.
"Look at Peyton's career, if he sees something that could be adversity in his way he finds a way to overcome it. He is detail-oriented, which means that if something is different it is an opportunity for him to exploit that as an advantage."
If Manning emerges victorious on Sunday and adds a second Super Bowl ring amid the bitter bite of the New Jersey winter, it will surely silence the doubters – at least for now. Coach John Fox certainly had no concerns.
"We are kind of weatherproof," Fox said.
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