When Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts at the beginning of the 2012-13 season many doubted that he was still good enough to make a difference. However, not only was he good enough he nearly brought them back to a Super Bowl as he led them to the AFC divisional championships and was just acknowledged by the Associated Press for his triumphs on Jan. 2, 2013, as the NFL's 2012-13 Comeback Player of the Year.
A neck injury like nothing anyone had seen sidelined Manning for all of the 2011-12 season with the colts and was thought to have been a career ending injury. At that time Manning had never missed a start in his then 13-year NFL career. However, the fighter that he is proved that he would not give up.
During his acceptance speech, Manning eluded to the strangeness and frustration of his injury but never once sounded as if the daunting recovery had defeated his will to play:
This injury was unlike any other. There really was no bar or standard. There were no notes to copy. We were coming up with a rehab plan as we went.
Certainly, you have double variables of coming off injury, not playing for over year and joining a new team. That certainly added a lot to my plate, so it was hard to really know what to expect.
I can't tell you how grateful and thankful I am. I can't tell you how happy I am to be playing the game of football we all love so much.
Manning was edged to what would have been his record fifth NFL MVP award by a fellow comeback player of 2012-13 in Minnesota Viking's running back Adrian Peterson who returned to nearly break the NFL rushing record after having his left knee completely surgically repaired prior to the season.
Had Manning led the Broncos to the Super Bowl it is likely that he would have claimed the MVP award and Peterson the Comeback Player of the Year as the votes for both were very close.
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