Ever since Peyton Manning woke up in a Chicago hospital room four years ago, tried to hoist himself up in his bed, and felt his right arm collapse under his own weight, he’s been on a mission to rebuild his body and recover from the four neck surgeries that left his throwing arm atrophied and his body in shambles.
In Peter King’s MMQB column, Manning was as candid about his health as he has been in years.
"I can’t feel anything in my fingertips,” Manning said, “It’s crazy. I’ve talked to a doctor recently, who said, ‘Don’t count on the feeling coming back.’ It was hard for me for about two years, because one doctor told me I could wake up any morning and it might come back. So, you wake up every day thinking, Today’s the day! Then, it’s not.”
The revelation that Manning still can’t feel his fingertips should not be much of surprise to fans in Denver. Since his first season with the Denver Broncos, Manning’s taken to wearing a specially-made glove on his throwing hand to help get better grip on the ball. While he has never expounded on the glove in great detail, it’s been assumed since he started wearing it that the glove is designed to help him grip the football.
While it may not be particularly surprising, it certainly puts Manning’s production in perspective. During his four years in Denver, Manning has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 14,863 yards and an astounding 131 touchdowns, all without having feeling in his fingertips.
That production is better than it ever was in Indianapolis. As King writes in his column:
“At age 36, 37, and 38, his combined completion percentage is 2.8 points higher than in his career before the neck problems; in Indy, he averaged 28.5 touchdown passes per season; In Denver, it’s 43.7”
That’s the kind of production you only see in a Madden video game. Even without being anywhere near 100 percent healthy, and without having feeling in his fingertips, Peyton Manning has been able to rewrite the franchise record books and reshape the quarterback position.
Now, he's tasked with continuing that trend within the confines of the Kubiak-Manning hybrid offense, of which, we haven't really been allowed to see—yet. When the season kicks off on September 13th, all eyes will be on the 39-year-old quarterback and we'll find out in a hurry if he has another stalwart season left in the tank.
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