Citing his season-long mantra of taking it one game at a time, Peyton Manning responded to the latest wave of retirement rumors on Monday with the verbal equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders.
“I haven’t made up my mind, but I don’t see myself knowing that until after the season, like I said earlier,” Manning explained at Super Bowl Opening Night. “Whatever cliché you want to use, but I kind of stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand.”
While the idea of him calling it quits at the end of this year has long seemed a possibility, his post-AFC Championship game words to Bill Belichick -- “this might be my last rodeo” -- brought the rumors to a fever pitch just over a week ago. And despite Manning’s reluctance to say either way in front of reporters or fans, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport claims that the all-time great QB has already “let the cat out of the bag a little bit” for those in his inner circle.
“[He] has told close friends that he expects this to be his last game," Rapoport stated.
The recording of Manning and Belichick's post-game conversation.
Manning is in the midst of his 18th NFL season, and the wear and tear of his long tenure was apparent in his play for much of the 2015 campaign. The 39-year-old quarterback even ended up having to miss a spate of games throughout November and December as he dealt with a pair of lingering injuries.
On Monday, however, he explained that the mentality of taking his recovery process one week at a time -- doing whatever he could to heal in each seven-day span -- helped prepare him for this moment, when he needs to think only of the contest at hand and not any further into the future.
“[That philosophy has] really served me well till this point and I’m going to stick with that,” Manning said.
So what about those words he spoke to Belichick nine days ago? When he told him that the 2015 playoffs may very well be his “last rodeo”?
Don’t read too far into it, Manning says. After all, according to him, he meant the comment to be taken literally.
“I am going to go participate in the rodeo now,” he joked. “I’ve been working on the lasso, I’ve got the cowboy hat. So you totally, totally missed the point there.”
Oh, Peyton. So coy.
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