After Record Fourth AP NFL MVP, Manning Grateful to Coaches, Organization, Teammates and Fans
INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning is now atop one of the NFL's most exclusive, prestigious lists.
But Manning, who on Saturday was named the Associated Press National Football League Most Valuable Player for a record fourth time, said this much is just as true:
He wouldn't be there without help. A lot of it.
"I'm very humbled, very honored to receive this award," Manning said Saturday after becoming the first player to win the award four times. "I truly feel like it's a team award, and I certainly can't speak for the voters, but I have to believe that our team going 14-0 and having seven come-from-behind wins played a big role in this award coming this way.
"So I'm just extremely grateful and thankful to all my teammates, all my coaches, everybody in the organization, our great fans. To think you can have seven come-from-behind victories without the great supof fans, then you're mistaken.
"I just can't thank so many people enough for their support this year."
Manning, in his 12th season as the Colts' quarterback, received 39½ votes with Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints receiving seven and a half. Only quarterbacks received votes.
"There are truly a number of other deserving candidates that they easily could have won this award, and that makes it even more humbling and special for me," Manning said. "I think at a later time that this may sink in a little bit more to me."
Manning, who two weeks ago was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team for the 10th time, also was named AP NFL MVP in 2003, 2004 and 2008. He shared the award in 2003 with the late Steve McNair, then the quarterback of the Tennessee Titans.
Manning and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (1995-97) had been the only players named AP MVP three times. Manning joins others as the leaders for Most Valuable Player Awards in their sports: Wayne Gretzky (9), Barry Bonds (7) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6).
"I'm really not comfortable with being drawn into comparison with some of the other athletes," Manning said. "Someone else mentioned to me some of the other athletes in others sports that have been multiple winners of an award like this, and I'm just not comfortable to put myself there. Although I certainly would think that all those athletes would echo my sentiments of being thankful and grateful for the supporting cast they've had around them.
" And I think they would realize, as I certainly do, that this wouldn't be possible without the help of so many people. Although, I'm not sure if I can believe if any of those people can be as humbled as I am right now."
Maning mentioned not only teammates, but Colts President Bill Polian and Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay, the latter of whom Manning said left a "special voice mail" for him Saturday.
"Reflecting on winning this four times I've been thinking about what have been the constants in all four of these years," Manning said. "There are quite a few, but some of them obviously are: I've been playing for the same owner, Jim Irsay, all 12 years of my career, but certainly all four of these special seasons. I've just benefited from his tremendous leadership and his unbelievable passion for winning; the same general manager in Bill Polian all 12 years, and his outstanding leadership I've just been grateful for his support; a number of outstanding coaches, there have been different head coaches, different assistant coaches, but I've benefited from super coaching, and I truly have gotten better from their coaching; great teammates, so many great players, offensive side of the ball, defensive side of the ball; and I've been able to play in front of the best fans in football for all 12 years, and I'm truly grateful for that. I realize that this wouldn't be possible without the support of all those people.
"I have received some calls and texts from some teammates, and I appreciate that. I've responded to them how thankful and grateful I am to them for all of their help and for doing their jobs the way that they do. Football is the ultimate team game, I've always said that, and I think at times like this, it makes you feel good to be part of a really good team and a bunch of great guys and great members of the organization."
Manning, who completed 393 of 571 passes for 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, not only helped the Colts extend their regular-season winning streak to 23 games this season, he helped the team become the third in NFL history to start a 14-0.
Whereas Manning tied Favre's record last year with a season in which he overcame a difficult start because of preseason knee surgery, Manning this season started the season hot, winning AFC Offensive Player-of-the-Month in September by passing for 983 yards, seven touchdowns and maintaining a quarterback rating of 117.7.
Early in the season, he became the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300 or more yards in five consecutive games to start a regular season.
With a new head coach, Jim Caldwell, replacing long-time head coach Tony Dungy, and an influx of young talent on the offense, Manning has called this season "different."
Manning this season also worked with an offense that played 15 and a half games without wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who entered the season as a starter. Rookie wide receiver Austin Collie and second-year wide receiver Pierre Garcon – who played sparingly last season as a rookie – played critical roles in an offense that also featured a rookie running back, Donald Brown.
"It certainly was a different year," Manning said. "Anytime you have a new head coach that's a major change, even though Coach Dungy left things so fundamentally strong around here and Coach Caldwell continues his coaching style and continues with his outstanding leadership.
"And you've had some major changes in personnel. When you lose a receiver that's been such a constant performer like Marvin Harrison and you replace him with young guys, there's change there I have to believe that the way our team responded to that change, that our veterans like Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark and Ryan Diem, Joseph Addai, the way these guys just came to work everyday and didn't let all these changes affect them, I think the way our team responded to these changes had a lot to do with the kind of season that we've had.
"We've just stuck together as a team, we've fought together, we've come out with some very close wins, and I've just been fortunate to be a part of that."
Manning also further established himself as one of the great fourth-quarter quarterbacks in NFL history. The Colts this season rallied to win in the fourth quarter seven times, and in November, they registered five consecutive such comebacks, also a league record. Manning also set club seasonal records in completions (393) and completion percentage (68.8), bettering his previous marks in those categories.
"It's been a fun team to be a part of," Manning said. "Anybody that's watched us play has seen that we have won close ballgames. We have fought and scratched. We have not come out and dominated any teams, but we've come together as a team, and it's been very rewarding to be a part of it. And I just truly accept this award on behalf of the team and the entire organization."