Manning admitted at his talk late Tuesday night to the attentive players from this year's Pro Bowl squads that the "torch, or whatever it is that I do here on this night," eventually will be passed on to someone else, as the 36-year-old Denver Broncos quarterback gets closer to retirement.
He began with an impassioned plea for a return to a time when players cared about the NFL's all-star game and played at full speed. He finished with a series of zingers that left all in attendance -- including NFL executive of football operations Ray Anderson, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and this fly on the wall -- in stitches.
It was hard to tell if we were at a players' Pro Bowl meeting or a comedy club with a two-drink minimum. A sampling:
» Manning acknowledged those in the crowd who were involved in Pro Bowl records or achievements over the years. He then turned to himself. "Peyton Manning holds the record with nine interceptions in the Pro Bowl. I want to thank PR for looking that up for me. I want to keep that record. So on Sunday, (NFC cornerbacks Charles) Tillman, (Tim) Jennings, (Patrick) Peterson, look out; I'm going to throw it every time."
» "Couple of rules, couple of reminders. Let's just keep the pictures and autographs at the pool to a minimum. It's an area for the guys to hang out, get to know each other. (The rule) is not for guys like me; I'll sign whatever. It's for the guys who get bothered (for autographs) all the time. Guys like Dustin Colquitt, Phil Dawson. These guys can't go anywhere. Rich Incognito. Right? Andrew Whitworth. Right? These guys can't relax."
» "A little announcement here -- pool volleyball, Wednesday, 3 p.m. AFC quarterbacks vs. NFC quarterbacks. Each team gets a 'need' player, and I'm in charge of picking this player for both teams. AFC, we get J.J. Watt. The NFC gets Leon Washington."
Watt, of course, led the league this season with 16 pass knockdowns. Washington, the NFC's kick returner, is 5-foot-8 -- out of water.
Andy Fenelon is a senior editor at NFL.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Andy_Fenelon.