Denver teammates ask Peyton Manning for autographs

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“At the time, throwing to the left was about the only thing I could do well. So there was a lot of misinformation out there.”

As it turned out, Manning would be just fine.

Last season, he led the Broncos to the playoffs, earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

“I kind of joked, ‘I never wanted to be eligible for that award.’ … I’ve got to call it more of a second chance, second opportunity,” Manning said.

Broncos coach John Fox called Manning’s immediate success in Denver “truly remarkable.”

“To build on that,” Fox added, “and to have the kind of season he’s had to this point this year, I think is unprecedented.”

From the very moment it began in September - on opening night, Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes in a victory over the reigning champion Baltimore Ravens - this season has been all about Peyton.

In Year 2 of his second act, Manning threw for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, both records. If the Broncos win Sunday, Manning will become the first starting quarterback to lead two franchises to Super Bowl titles.

“He’s one of the best - if not the best - quarterbacks to ever play the game. One day, I want to be like him, in terms of the way he thinks,” Seahawks QB Russell Wilson said.

Said Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor: “In my book, he ranks No. 1 at quarterback.”

Manning is not inclined to discuss his own standing in football.

“I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old. I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old. Even 37,” Manning said. “I’d like to have to be, like, 70 to have a legacy. I’m not even 100 percent sure what the word even means.”

Then, in about the closest thing to a stumble, Manning said: “I’m still in the middle of my career.”

Realizing his miscue, Manning paused, grinned and resumed: “Let me rephrase that. I’m down the homestretch of my career, but I’m still in it. It’s not over yet. And so it’s still playing out.”

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