If someone had asked any of the greatest writers of our generation to script a comeback scenario for Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, they most likely would not have come up with as great a story as fans have seen in this 2012 NFL season. After four neck surgeries and 19 months away from the game he loved, Manning has not only proved that he can still throw the ball and lead his team to victory, but he has done it at a level that is unheard of in the league’s history.
It is evident that in a season when expectations were high for the Broncos, owner Pat Bowlen, Executive Vice President John Elway, Head Coach John Fox, or anyone for that matter in the Broncos organization could have asked for this type of an effort. Now the fans have spoken also, as Manning received the most votes of any player in the league in online voting at 993,045 for the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl. That fans’ voice counts towards one-third of the selection, with players and coaches accounting for two-thirds of the vote for which 43 players represent their conference at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu on January 27th.
Manning is running neck and neck with RB Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings for not only the comeback player of the year, but also the league MVP awards, and now will most likely add his 12th Pro Bowl appearance to his resume. On the year, he has completed 67.9% of his passes for over 4,000 yards and 31 TDs against 10 INTs. That is pretty gaudy numbers for a QB that is 36 years old, is playing with a new team, and who most believed it would take longer for him to adjust after his surgeries.
The Broncos are 11-3, have won the AFC West division and control their own destiny for the second seed and a first round bye in the conference. As steady as Manning has been this year, it has not been all about him either. Two other Broncos lead their respective positions in fan voting, also. Linebacker, and defensive player of the year candidate, Von Miller received 387,585 votes, and Champ Bailey led all corner backs with 240,804.
The 2012 season has become a team effort in Denver, but the work ethic and demanding style of Manning has clearly brought this team to a new level than they have seen in years past. There is no possible way that anyone could have written this kind of story and sold it to the public before the season started. But now that it is unfolding before our eyes, maybe we have found that the author has clearly just written an autobiography instead.
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