If it wasn't for Peyton Manning's wife, Ashley, the Denver Broncos' star quarterback and likely 2013 NFL MVP may not have played another down in the league after his 2011 surgery.
In an interview with Peter King, the 2013 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year opened up about his mindset as he recovered from the career-threatening procedure.
King asked Manning if there was a time when he thought he would not be able to return to the NFL.
"Yeah," Manning told King. "Ashley [his wife] and I actually had those conversations. More than one. Because, you know, you don't want to embarrass yourself. Because, they're signing you and people are thinking they're getting the player they had always seen before. And so, Ashley was the one that was saying, ‘Peyton, you’ve got to try. You’ve got to try.' With this injury, nothing was happening. Nothing. For weeks. There was no progress. It was so frustrating. And really, I had a peace about it. I had a peace. Because, I had this unbelievable string of health for 20 years -- since I was 15 years old as a sophomore in high school. So who was I to complain now that I'm injured? I’ve given it as good a run as I can give it. I’ve got kids now. I had a peace about it. So I didn’t feel like I had to play to get another win or a touchdown. But she's like, ‘You’ve got to try.’ So I was glad that she pushed me to do it. Once I did it, I was going at it, and then I started seeing a little bit of light there. So, yeah, she was the one who kind of pushed me through it."
Manning is nearing the conclusion of his second spectacular season with the Broncos. He leads all NFL quarterbacks with 4,811 passing yards and 47 touchdowns through 15 weeks. His QB rating of 113 is second only to Nick Foles' 117. If Manning keeps playing at this rate over the final two weeks of the season, he should be the favorite to win his fifth NFL MVP award.
With that in mind, it's hard to believe that Manning was so close to calling it quits. But there were lots of questions about Manning's arm strength as he prepared to return last year. Many people thought he would never be the same.
Manning has always been private about his personal life and Ashley hasn't been as visible as the wives of other superstar athletes. This anecdote certainly offers an interesting look at the Mannings' relationship.
In a sense, NFL fans and Broncos fans especially have Ashley Manning to thank for the incredible football being played in Denver this year.
(H/T to For The Win)