Senior Writer

Competition is what drives Peyton Manning, not money


Even before signing his new five-year, $90-million contract Saturday, Peyton Manning had more money than he could spend in a lifetime.

Even so, the entire process leading up to his signing a new contract seemed to bug him. There were times when he felt the Colts dissed him to try and drive down his price. There were things said during contract talks that upset him, some even laughable.

I know he didn't like when owner Jim Irsay said the Colts were not a one-man team last summer. There were times when Manning thought the Colts put him in a bad light by saying things when he didn't say anything about the deal to the media.

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Manning certainly wanted to get a new, big contract, but, believe me, he didn't enjoy the process. That much I know. There were times last season when the Colts wanted to talk about a deal, but Manning wanted to think football. He didn't want his agent calling with contract offers while he was planning for that week's game, so he said no in-season negotiating. That made him look standoffish, but that wasn't the case.

It was timing.

And the deal didn't get done, leaving the Colts in a situation where they had cap issues if it didn't this year and leaving Manning wondering some how much they truly appreciated him.

Manning was bothered as much as anything by why it didn't get done before the 2010 season even started. Why did the Colts leave him hanging? When New England's Tom Brady signed his new deal last year ($18 million a year), it set the market. I didn't think Manning would take a deal for that average, but he did.

It's not the money for him. It's the competition. It drives the guy, whether on the field or at the negotiating table. So, in this instance, he has to be happy about the tie with Brady, his on-field rival, but off-field friend.

Brady has been saluted at times for leaving money on the table to help from a cap standpoint. Manning supposedly did that here. Is anybody saluting him?

See, that's the difference. Brady is revered by most. Manning is a love-hate relationship for fans and the media. They say he cuts too many commercials. They say he's into theatrics at the line of scrimmage, which is an arrogant way of playing the position. It all adds up to a polarizing figure.

There's no denying his greatness, though. And this deal makes it so he should finish his career as a Colts player. If he plays it out, Manning will own all the prominent passing records.

Play the projection game and see. Manning needs to average 4,253 yards in the next four years to pass Brett Favre as the all-time leader in passing-yards. Manning has 54,828 yards and Favre has 71,838 yards. Manning needs to average just over 27 touchdown passes the next four seasons to pass Favre as the all-time leader in touchdown passes. He's averaged 31 the past four.

This is a man who has worked out tirelessly during vacations, scouting out gyms and fields before the trips. This is a man who watches more film than most coaches. This is a quarterback who I saw with my own two eyes eight years ago working out in 100-degree heat during his camp in Louisiana, driving his brother and then-college quarterback Philip Rivers to do the same.

He doesn't have the best arm. He doesn't have the quickest feet or the most athletic ability. What he has is a work ethic and drive that made him a star, while a lack of it that turned Ryan Leaf, the man taken right behind him, into a bust. The irony there is the Colts came this close to picking Leaf. They won't admit that now, but I hear it was a decision that was made the week of the draft.

What if Leaf went to the Colts? Would they have a Super Bowl title? No. Would they have a new stadium? No. Would they have a Super Bowl coming to Indianapolis? No.

Manning did that.

Now, barring injury, he will walk away from the game as the most-decorated passer ever. It hasn't come easy, but it's the results of a lot of hard work.

Give him his due. Push aside those feelings of anger and dislike for the man and appreciate him for what he has made himself: One of the best who has ever played the game -- if not the best, when it's all said and done.

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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