|Manning underwent four neck surgeries before returning to the field in 2012. (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)|
NEW ORLEANS -- A year ago, Peyton Manning was in Indianapolis, watching his brother win a second Super Bowl and answering questions about his future. On Saturday, he answered them definitively by winning the NFL's 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award.
"No NFL player wants to be eligible to win the Comeback Player of the Year," Manning said before thanking team doctors and all the people who helped him return to football.
Peterson's recovery was an example of of a medical miracle but Manning's comeback was no less stunning. The multiple MVP-award winner underwent a slew of neck surgeries and missed all of the 2011 season.
He was let go by the Colts, landed with Denver and had a monster year, leading the Broncos to an AFC West title not too long after. Manning said Saturday that he believed it was possible he'd never return to football.
"I really didn't know," Manning said when asked. "I was prepared for that."
Manning's injury was a strange one: he's been a pioneer in the game of football and was a pioneer medically by fighting through an unknown injury to return.
"This injury was really unlike any other," Manning said. "There was no bar or standard or somebody's notes to copy. We were sort of coming up with the rehab plan as we went."