No surprise here: Fox says Manning is his MVP

Rarely one to talk publicly about the big picture or much beyond

winning the next game, Denver coach John Fox weighed in on the

interesting race for Most Valuable Player.

That race could come down to Peyton Manning of the Broncos vs.

old rival Tom Brady of the Patriots and Adrian Peterson of the

Vikings.

”Obviously, I’m going to be a little biased,” Fox said

Monday.

His vote, of course, would go to Manning, not so much for the

numbers he’s put up as for the obstacles he’s overcome – namely, a

season off, four neck surgeries and the task of becoming the

Broncos quarterback after spending his entire career with the

Colts.

”With all due respect for everyone involved, what’s unique

about Peyton … he’s done it in a new city with a new team at that

position,” Fox said. ”In my own personal opinion, that’s what

separates him from the field.”

Of course, getting the nod from the Broncos coach is one thing.

The decision from the real voters won’t be handed down until Super

Bowl week.

The way things are going for the Broncos, Manning might be on

hand to collect it personally if he wins.

Denver (12-3) is on a 10-game winning streak and positioned for

a first-round bye in the playoffs and possibly even the top seed.

Manning has 4,355 yards, 203 away from the second most in his 14

seasons. His 34 touchdowns are ranked second over a career in which

he has already won a record four MVP awards.

In his postgame news conference after Denver’s 34-12 win over

Cleveland on Sunday, Manning said he hasn’t thought about his

chances of winning No. 5.

”It has been such a unique season for me personally, I really

feel fortunate to be playing,” he said. ”I really have had an

interesting year and a half and so I’m proud our team is in the

mix. Anything that comes along the way individually, in my past, I

have accepted those on behalf of the teams I have been on. They’re

individual awards, but in my opinion they have always been team

awards. That’s kind of how I continue to approach things.”

Fox, who has been coaching for nearly 35 years and needs one

more victory to reach 100 as an NFL head coach, said he still

learns from Manning.

Manning has come to Denver and changed the culture in the locker

room, essentially by demanding his teammates become students of the

game off the field in addition to working as hard as he does on

it.

”I see how hard he works,” Fox said. ”He has it down to a

science as far as time management in an NFL season. I saw him in

the cool tub watching his iPad. Someone asked me if I was worried

about the iPad. I said, no, I don’t care about the iPad, I care

about him. Don’t want him to get electrocuted. But it’s remarkable

how hard he works.”

He said Manning also sets the tone by never taking his foot off

the gas. During their winning streak, the Broncos have won by an

average score of 31-17. They have taken double-digit leads in every

game but one, and nobody has played them closer than seven

points.

”We talk about that a lot, not coasting, pedal downhill,” Fox

said. ”I appreciate him. I think that’s a big reason why he’s

accomplished what he’s accomplished, whether it’s here or in

Indianapolis. He’s a tremendous competitor, doesn’t let up. I think

that’s how you need to be to be successful.”

Peterson is also coming off a major injury, a torn-up knee that

knocked him out in December of last season, meaning he and Manning

are also prime contenders for Comeback Player of the Year.

Brady, meanwhile, would be considered the third major candidate

in the MVP voting.

In that case, voters would be choosing between:

-Peterson, a running back who made a remarkably fast comeback

and, at present, has rushed for 1,898 yards and led a 3-13 team in

2011 to the verge of the playoffs in 2012.

-Brady, a quarterback who has more yards (4,543) but fewer

touchdowns (32) than Manning and who also has a victory over

Manning: New England’s 31-21 win in October that marks the last

time Denver lost.

-And, of course, Manning, who has engineered the league’s

longest winning streak and is turning a good team into a

potentially great one.

Fox knows how he’d vote. But he said he’s not in the business of

lobbying.

”I was asked what I thought,” he said, ”and I told you.”

Notes: Fox reported two injuries: KR Trindon Holliday (ankle)

and CB Tracy Porter (concussion). … Fox gave the Broncos a rare

”Victory Monday” – the day off after a win. The team reports back

to work Wednesday. … With 65 yards receiving, WR Eric Decker

joined Demaryius Thomas in the 1,000-yard club. The Broncos have

their first 1,000-yard receiving duo since 2004. … Denver moved

up to fourth in overall offense and third in overall defense and,

with a week left, remains the only team ranked in the top five in

both categories.

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