Peyton Manning felt right at home at Coors Field taking in a Colorado Rockies game Sunday, where his college pal Todd Helton had a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs.
Manning and Helton were quarterbacks at the University of Tennessee in the mid-1990s. Manning recently signed with the Denver Broncos to become their new QB.
When Manning was going through his rehabilitation from neck surgery during the NFL lockout, Helton helped arrange for him to use the Rockies' facilities to work out.
"He's a great friend. What he did for me last year, allowing me to use this facility, use the trainers to work out as part of my rehab process," Manning said. "I've come a long way in a year. They were a big part of it."
Manning thanked Helton and the Rockies for their hospitality and generosity. Manning said that when he left the Indianapolis Colts and was deciding on a new team as a free agent, he already knew Denver was a great sports town.
The four-time NFL MVP missed the entire 2011 season after his fourth neck surgery and was released by the team in early March. He signed a five-year deal with Denver last month after a short courtship with several NFL teams.
Manning has been a frequent visitor to Coors Field over the years. He has hit a couple of home runs in batting practice and has fielded grounders at his old position of shortstop.
"Actually, every time I've been here with Todd, as much as I like taking BP, I actually enjoy taking groundballs," he said. "I miss that about baseball more than anything."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.