Peyton Manning has found his future in question for much of the season. Many are wondering just how many years the record-breaking quarterback has left in him. As the Denver Broncos prepare to play in the upcoming Super Bowl, speculation is running wild over what a win or loss means for Peyton's career. While a health issue could force him into early retirement, Manning is stressing he has no plans to call it quits anytime soon.
Manning has used some choice words that make many believe he is ready to hang up his cleats after the Super Bowl. The quarterback has tossed around phrases like "light at the end of the tunnel" and "homestretch" when referring to his future. He was starting to sound less like a quarterback ready for a new contract extension and more like one that is ready for the couch next fall. However, Manning is attempting to end speculation right now saying he intends to play for as long as he can.
"I certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury, with changing teams so I truly have been a one-year-at-a-time basis, so I really have no plans beyond this game," Manning said. "I had no plans coming into this season beyond this year, I think that's kind a healthy way to approach your career at this stage. I still enjoy playing football, I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point coming off that surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the game, everybody's excited to play in a Super Bowl, but I think when you still enjoy the preparation, the work part of it, I think you still ought to be doing that. I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can't do this, if I can't help the team, that's when I stop playing."
Manning is certainly not showing any signs of aging. He just finished off a record-breaking regular season as he leads the Broncos to the biggest game this year. ESPN.com reports that many in the Broncos' front office believe that Manning's career will not be dictated by a Super Bowl win or loss, but more by a medical test the quarterback will undergo in the offseason.
Manning will be issued tests in the offseason on his surgically repaired neck following any injury back in 2012. If doctors say Manning is fine, the quarterback will likely be back in 2014 under center. However, there is a chance that the spinal fusion could cause long-term issues, forcing Manning into early retirement.
Manning has not addressed his future with teammates, opting to focus on the season now and winning another Super Bowl. One more title could secure Manning's place in history as one of the best. A win does not necessarily mean Manning retires no matter what, but it could factor into the decision process.
"I know there is a number of players that have walked away as champions," Manning said. "I'm sure that's a great feeling for those people, John Elway, Ray Lewis did it last year, Micheal Strahan. In talking to Ray Lewis and in talking to John Elway, they couldn't play any more, that was all they had to give. They truly left it all out there."