Peyton Manning and Todd Helton through the yearsPeyton Manning's former Tennessee teammate Todd Helton went on to play for the Colorado Rockies. Take a look back at photos of the two friends.
There's no concern that Manning will walk away from the game after a record-breaking campaign. The greatest regular-season quarterback in NFL history does concede that retirement is visible on the distant horizon, however.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere on Sunday, playing a good football team, and there is nothing else I would rather be doing than be in that opportunity," Manning said Wednesday, via the Broncos' official website. "And so that is certainly my goal to enjoy the preparation -- not just the game --to actually enjoy the preparation part of it, enjoy being around the guys.
"Because certainly, the light is at the end of the tunnel for me -- no question. And so, I think you enjoy these things maybe even more than maybe you have in the past."
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has already gotten more than he expected from his investment. With the organization in win-now mode, might Manning walk off into the sunset with a Lombardi Trophy as executive V.P. of football operations John Elway did in 1998?
Back in August, Manning made it clear that going out on top is "really not" a priority. As long as he enjoys the preparation and can remain effective, he's going to continue playing.
No other quarterback ever has been more effective than Manning in 2013. He just stated that he still savors the preparation. There's a chance he could break his own single-season passing records next season while leapfrogging Brett Favre for a host of career marks.
If Manning earns his second Super Bowl victory in February, he will be seeking his third next season. Where it goes from there is anyone's guess.