Manning wants to play eight more years
INDIANAPOLIS -- Eight years into his career and, according to the Peyton Manning personal vocational blueprint, the Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback has reached the halfway point of his NFL tenure.
"Yeah, I guess that I'll be handing off on the 'stretch' play when I'm an old man, huh?" said Manning, laughing, as he referred to the Colts' staple running play. "It might take a little more to stretch when I'm 38 years old."
Manning reiterated, as the Colts began a three-day minicamp here Friday, that he wants to play eight more seasons. He initially revealed his desires to the Indianapolis Star.
If he follows that game plan, Manning will play through the 2013 season, when he will be 38. The Colts' star, who captured the league passing title each of the last two seasons, turned 30 in March. Eight more seasons, and a total of 16 for his career, would be one more year than his father, Archie Manning, logged in his career.
Manning is under contract through the 2012 season and, in the past, has acknowledged that he prefers to be a "Colt for life." Colts owner Jim Irsay has also indicated that he wants Manning, the first overall selection in the 1998 draft and the cornerstone for the transformation of the Indianapolis franchise into a perennial playoff contender, to play his entire career with the team.
The two-time most valuable player has dealt with some injuries in the past, but has remained relatively healthy, and has never missed a game. Manning has appeared in 108 straight regular-season contests, and started in all of them. Of the 4,449 passes logged by Indianapolis quarterbacks since his arrival, Manning has accounted for 97.4 percent of them. In three seasons, he took every snap.
"I've been lucky from a health standpoint, and I feel really good," Manning said. "The injuries I've had, we've been able to deal with them. I don't see, at least now, why I can't play 16 seasons."
Such a tenure, which seems reasonable given the physical condition in which Manning always keeps himself, is hardly unreasonable. It would mean Manning likely would challenge the league's passing marks, most of which are held by Dan Marino. Manning has completed 2,769 of 4,333 passed for 33,189 yards, with 244 touchdown passes and 130 interceptions. Double all those numbers and Manning would surpass Marino's current records for attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes.
But more than records, of course, Manning wants the Super Bowl ring that has eluded him and the Colts. The team seems to have put behind it the gnawing loss to Pittsburgh in an divisional-round playoff game last year, and is poised to move ahead in 2006, but there are times Manning and others sneak a peek in the rear-view mirror.
"You'll be sitting watching [tape] and all of a sudden the playoff game will pop up and it kind of forces you to confront it again," Manning said. "But this is a really mature team. We've had some changes, but a lot of the guys here have been through it. We've just got to find a way to finish the deal. There's still time, with this group here, to finish what we want to accomplish."
One concession that Manning has made to age this year is in his offseason throwing program. Quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell suggested Manning rest his arm for a few months and, after the season, the Colts' star did not throw until May 1. For an acknowledged gym rat, and one of the NFL's hardest and most diligent workers, the withdrawal was a difficult one, and Manning allowed there were times he thought "they were going to have to put me in a straitjacket."
The time off, though, has served Manning well. In the Friday minicamp practice, he threw with velocity and, as always, great accuracy.
"Because I take so many snaps in the season, most of the snaps even in practice, this is probably a smart thing," Manning said. "You want your arm to be live during the season, and it feels really good."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .
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