John Fox: Peyton Manning 'freaking historical' in 2012


Peyton Manning entered the season as the NFL's biggest quarterback mark. He enters the final stretch of the season as the favorite for NFL MVP honors.

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At this point, we almost take it for granted that Manning is back to his old self. But it's truly a remarkable story considering what conventional wisdom thought about Manning less than a year ago after four neck surgeries.

The folks around Manning don't take it for granted.

"What Peyton is doing, in my brain, is not just remarkable, it's freaking historical," Denver Broncos coach John Fox told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times in an excellent feature. "To be where he is, off of what he just went through. Just look at it, his life got turned upside down.

"He's been in one place for 14 years, and he never imagined he'd be anywhere else. To have a real serious injury, where at one point you weren't real sure you were ever going to throw again. To be where he is right now? He's doing it in a completely different part of the country, with a completely different organization. I'm loving it, but I think about it and I'm like, 'This is kind of bizarre.'

Manning says the key to success is adjustment. He still hasn't been able to increase his work in the weight room, but he has learned how to change his game.

"What I've learned to do is compensate. That's what athletes do," Manning said. "You learn to compensate with what you've got. I've come to accept the reality that I am 36 years old. I'm not trying to be the player that I was when I was 28. I'm not. I don't compare myself to that. ... 

"I'm a different quarterback. I've got these two unbelievable kids now. My life has just totally changed. I've changed with it. I'm learning to live with something every day."

Manning even used the word "dink and dunk" to describe how he has learned to be successful, while mixing in the well-timed vertical pass. He's not the old Peyton Manning, but that's not the point. The new Peyton Manning still looks like an all-time great.