Manning realizes his comeback inspires others

Peyton Manning says he’s not sure he’s deserving of the 2013

Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year honor but is glad to be in

such elite company that includes the likes of former Tennessee

women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.

The Broncos quarterback was recognized at a banquet at Sports

Authority Field on Monday night.

Manning has led Denver to an 11-3 record this season, his second

with the Broncos after missing the 2011 season with Indianapolis

because of neck troubles that affected his right triceps. He has

thrown 47 touchdown passes, three shy of Tom Brady’s NFL season

record, with two games remaining.

Manning is the fourth NFL quarterback to take the honor in the

past nine years, following Brady in 2005, Brett Favre in 2007 and

Drew Brees in 2010. LeBron James was the winner last year.

”It means a great deal and for one, I really accept this award

on behalf of a lot of people that have helped me,” Manning said.

”I realized that being injured and coming back from an injury and

playing is probably a large reason why I received this award.

”It’s just a great way to show how grateful I am for all the

people that have helped me and supported me: my family, teammates

and coaches on many different levels, college coaches, pro coaches

and teammates, and so I really accept that on behalf of them.

”I do feel that my comeback has inspired some people. I’ve

received letters saying that. It’s good to know that those people

are working harder and doing better because maybe I’ve given them

some hope.”

Chris Stone, the magazine’s managing editor, said Manning beat

out two worthy candidates in baseball: ”Mariano Rivera, who kind

of embodies a career of excellence … and David Ortiz, what he

kind of symbolized for the Red Sox toward the end of the season and

how he was kind of the face of a team that went from worst to

first.”

Stone said Manning’s honor was in a sense a lifetime achievement

award.

”If you were to ask a 7- or 8-year-old kid what’s an example of

sportsmanship, I don’t think you could ask for a more obvious

example than when after a really tough loss last January, he took

the time out to go speak with Ray Lewis,” Stone said of Manning’s

visit to the Ravens’ locker room following Denver’s double-overtime

loss in the playoffs.

Stone said that gesture ”alone isn’t the reason we chose him as

Sportsman of the Year. It’s not even one of the primary reasons we

chose him. But I think it speaks to the type of athlete and

individual that Manning is.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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