When you can today, stop by King's Monday Morning QB today. I ask you to do this not because King has printed yet another dumb list of potential MVP candidates, but because King has written something that gives us fans a unique insight into the 2008 season, in particular the kind of season Peyton Manning has had to fight through. King's writing offers some wonderful information on how Peyton discovered his knee injury, how he fought back during rehab, and how he helped salvage the Colts' season [emphasis mine].
The story actually starts in Hawaii, at the Pro Bowl last year.
"I started to experience swelling in my knee at the Pro Bowl,'' Manning said. "I had two weeks off after the playoffs ended for us. Did nothing before Hawaii. Went to the beach, went to the Super Bowl, showed up in Hawaii, all of a sudden my knee swelled up like a grapefruit. The Chargers trainers bent over backwards, treating a player that's not even their player. They're supposed to be on vacation, and here they are, driving me all over the place to get an MRI. No big deal, I thought. I played the game, and after the game, the thing is gone, it's dissipated throughout my body. Very strange.
You'll recall that it was us here at Stampede Blue who were some of the first to notice Peyton's swollen knee. When Peyton returned to OTAs last April, the knee got worse. After consulting with numerous doctors, they decided to remove the bursa sac.
You know the rest of the story. Peyton sat out all the training camp and pre-season. What King adds to the story is some rare glimpses shared by Peyton himself. Peyton rarely talks about himself, and does not use excuses for poor play. But, when he describes to King the amount of work it took to get back to playing Peyton Manning football, it makes Peyton's 2008 season all the more amazing:
"I looked down, and my knee looked like a brain after surgery. You know how they show you pictures of a brain in science class? That's what this was -- swollen, ugly. I kind of got my hopes up, but it was disgusting. Mangled, in layers, dimples all over it. It didn't look good at all. My heart just sank. I was nervous and scared. It was so new to me. Some of these guys playing in the NFL have surgery all the time. Not me. The only surgery I'd ever had was for a deviated septum my sophomore year in high school. Here I have one July 14, then another one two weeks later. Uncharted waters for me.''
King's article corroborates much of what we as fans already knew. Peyton was not fully healthy until after the Titans loss. Following that game, Peyton has been the best QB in football and the Colts have won 9 in a row. But it is not those bits of information that make this article excellent. It is the rare insight into Peyton himself. Peyton is so protected, so guarded about how he is perceived that when we hear him talk about football in such a frank manner (outside of boring coach-speak), it is really refreshing. See his comments about the comeback against the Vikings:
"Probably the biggest play of the game, third-and-10 on the 50 [actually third-and-nine at the Minnesota 49], I get Reggie Wayne on a post-route from the slot, ball rushes right past the DB's ear into Reggie. That told me, 'I can still make these throws. If I keep rehabbing, I can make it back. I still have it.' ''
Or, his thoughts on the comeback against the Texans:
"The next week, Houston's got us 27-10 midway through the fourth quarter. It is not looking good. Lotta people thinking, 'Here come the Texans' -- they finished 8-8 the year before, their crowd's fired up, they're inspired to win after Hurricane Ike. But it's your job to play until the final seconds. I throw a touchdown pass to Tom Santi that looks like a stat-padder. Then [Gary] Brackett takes a fumble back for a touchdown.''
King wraps the article up with a quote from Peyton that reflects a shared feeling among Colts fans:
"This has been my most rewarding regular season, because of what we've all been faced with here,'' Manning said. "I've been proud to be on this team. Guys dug deep. I dug deep.''
King's piece is very much intended to influence other MVP voters that Peyton is the 2008 NFL MVP. You all know my take on that: If people need convincing at this point, they are morons and should not be voting in the first place. But, if King's piece can convince a few idiots that they should not make a fool of themselves by voting for someone else, so be it.
Today, Peter King deserves some love for a well written article that gives us some fascinating insight into the best player in the NFL: Peyton Manning. Big tip to Nideak for posting on this first.