On Saturday, Peyton Manning woke up in Germany on a USO tour.
He didn’t let that stop him from attending the NFL 101 Awards in Kansas City, Mo., to accept his record seventh award later that evening.
“Once I received the award, I committed to being here,” Manning said. “I’ve been here every year — I’m proud of that fact. It’s a banquet that’s worth coming to, because it’s really special. And to be here with my old coach makes it even more special.”
That coach would be Manning’s offensive coordinator from his college days, current Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe introduced Manning before the quarterback accepted the award for AFC Offensive Player of the Year.
Manning said Cutcliffe and the Broncos trainers were some of the people that were instrumental in helping him get back on the football field in 2012. He couldn’t help but think of how far he had come throughout the Broncos’ AFC West-title season.
“I certainly was reflective all year, and this is a nice way to kind of culminate what’s really been a special comeback,” he said. “It’s not the goal, the individual award, but I’m honored and humbled to be recognized by the committee with this award. The fact that this is my seventh time, it’s certainly special.”
Manning finished the regular season with 4,659 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and a passer rating of 105.8, which led the AFC. His 68.6 completion rate was tied for first in the entire league.
The 12-time Pro Bowler was voted the recipient of the award by 101 members of the national media.
“This really is the premier banquet, so it’s an honor to be back,” Manning said. “I’m just glad to be back playing football again. I appreciate Coach Cutcliffe being here to introduce me. That’s what makes this banquet so unique, that they allow you to bring someone to introduce you. I’ve had my dad, my brother Cooper, Tom Moore, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell — it’s nice to have my old college coach here as well.”