NEW YORK -- For whatever reason, people are treating Super Bowl XLVIII like it's Peyton Manning's last game. Like he'd saunter off into the sunset after winning his second Super Bowl and his first with the Broncos. That's not happening.
Manning didn't completely dismiss the notion -- how can you when you're two years removed from four neck surgeries -- but he said Sunday when arriving in New York for the 2014 Super Bowl that he plans on playing again in 2014.
"I know that there have been a number of players who have walked away as champions. I'm sure that it is a great feeling for those people. John Elway, Ray Lewis did it last year, and Michael Strahan. In talking to Ray Lewis, and talking to John Elway, they couldn't play anymore. It was all they had to give," Manning said. "They truly left it all out there. I certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury and with changing teams. I've been truly on a one-year-at-a-time basis.
So, I really have no plans beyond this game. I had no plans, coming into this season, beyond this year. I think that it is the healthy way to approach your career at this stage. I still enjoy playing football. I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point, coming off that surgery."
See? Still totally wide open for a possible retirement. But then Manning pointed out the "preparation part" of work in the NFL, which is precisely why he just threw for the most passing yards and most passing touchdowns in NFL history.
"I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the games. Everybody is going to be excited to play in a Super Bowl. When you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you ought to be still doing that," Manning said. "I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can't produce, if I can't help a team, that's when I will stop playing.
"If that's next year, then maybe it is. I certainly want to continue to keep playing."
And that's the thing. Manning's not going to retire at the top of his game after winning a second Super Bowl.
His career -- and bear in mind he just had a career year -- has much more to offer. He's not gunning for a cushy media job once he's done playing football after this season. He's not a linebacker -- and all due respect to Ray Lewis -- working on skates as a liability to his team right now.
Peyton Manning's operating at the peak of his game. Which is why he's not going anywhere any time soon.