DENVER (AP) – Turns out, Peyton Manning can hit his targets off the field, as well.
To get over last week’s season-ending loss, Manning hooked up with an old buddy from Tennessee, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, and the two have been crisscrossing the country on a hunting trip.
“He told me he killed, in one day, a duck in Colorado and a deer in Mississippi,” Manning’s dad, Archie, told The Associated Press.
Anything for Peyton to take his mind off Denver’s 38-35 loss to Baltimore last Saturday.
“He’s trying to get it out of his system,” said Archie Manning, who played quarterback for his hometown Saints from 1971 through 1982. “I don’t know when that happens or how. But when he reflects on it, he’s already said it, it was really a special year.”
To put things in perspective, all Peyton’s dad has to do is look back to a year ago this week. Younger son Eli was preparing to take the New York Giants into the NFC title game in San Francisco. Peyton, meanwhile, had been on the sideline for a year and could barely throw a football 10 yards – still recovering from multiple operations on his neck.
“As a parent, it’s easy to look at the big picture,” Archie Manning said. “Here we are one year later. He left a city and a team, the only place he played. Had to pick a new spot. Leaving was hard. Picking a new spot was difficult to do.”
Manning had one of his best seasons. His 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns and, yes, his 68.6 percent completion accuracy, were each second-best in his 14 healthy seasons. Denver went 13-3 and had top-seeding in the playoffs.
The Broncos expected to be getting ready for the AFC title game this weekend. Instead, they dispersed last Sunday. Some to golf courses. Others to their hunting stands.
Archie Manning (Who, for the record, said he was good with coach John Fox’s decision to run out the last 31 seconds of regulation against Baltimore) says doctors believe some of the nerves in Peyton’s neck, shoulder and hand still have room to regenerate, meaning there’s even more room for improvement in 2013 and beyond.
Assuming Peyton passes a physical next month, the Broncos intend to pick up an option on his contract for the next two years.
In the meantime, Archie figures after Peyton flushes this tough loss from his system, he’ll be back and working as hard as ever.
“At age 36, he truly lives that old theory of, `enjoy the journey,'” Archie Manning said. “But along the way, we kid him. He’s bossy. But that’s who he is. I know he won’t quit working. He won’t quit trying to improve.”
– By Eddie Pells, AP National Writer
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