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Peyton Manning is this year's Super Bowl story

Posted Jan 27, 2016

“This might be my last rodeo.” Peyton Manning’s words, uttered in the aftermath of the AFC Championship Game, were not intended for our ears. He was sharing a private moment on the field with Bill Belichick, a man who has arguably been his true greatest rival over these past 18 years.

For all that we tend to focus on the quarterbacking duel with Tom Brady, those two never share the field at the same time - whereas Manning has constantly been obliged to test himself directly against the defenses that the Patriots head coach has devised. Belichick has won this battle more often than not, but victory on Sunday gives the Broncos quarterback a 3-1 edge in AFC Championship games.

“It sure has been a pleasure,” continued Manning in his brief exchange with his opponent on Sunday. Belichick said a few words in reply, but too softly to be picked up by the microphones. Hardly a verbose man at the best of times, we could hardly be surprised that he declined to later clarify what he had said. “Don't have anything to share,” Belichick replied when asked about the exchange. “I shared it with Peyton.”

A victory over Carolina in a week and a half’s time would certainly be a high note on which for Peyton to retire, adding his name to the 11 other quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowl rings. Even as things stand he has gone some way to counteracting the narrative that says he is a playoff choker. As CBS noted, his passer rating in the postseason is now better than Brady’s (just).  

But the news has not all been positive for Manning. According to the Associated Press, the NFL is still conducting an investigation into allegations, first published by Al Jazeera last month, that he had human growth hormones delivered to his house. Manning has described these claims “complete garbage”.

Three more things you might have missed

- Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is taking every single Panthers employee to watch their team play in the Super Bowl.

- New Jersey governor, presidential hopeful and noted Cowboys fan Chris Christie says he will “throw himself in front of the Johnny Manziel train” if that’s what it takes to stop the quarterback signing for Dallas.

- Elsewhere in quarterback-freedom-of-movement news, a group of Seattle fans has started a petition to ban Cam Newton from CenturyLink Field.

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