In this era of supersize contracts and supersize egos, rare is it the case that a player refuses to accept more money than he thinks he's worth.
As if Peyton Manning hasn't already carved out his place as one of the classiest pros around, a new story regarding his salary negotiations should reinforce his stellar reputation.
Manning's agent, Tom Condon, relayed to Andrew Brandt of MMQB a fascinating and revealing tale about Manning's free agency two years ago.
Manning, you'll remember, had missed the 2011 season after undergoing career-threatening neck surgery. Even he wasn't sure how his body would respond on the gridiron. Still, the four-time NFL MVP had plenty of suitors, and after selecting Denver he was in for a mega-deal. Condon thought Manning could command $25 million a year, making him one of the highest paid athletes in the world. Manning, however, had other plans.
He asked Condon how much Tom Brady made, and when Condon told him the Patriots' signal-caller banked $18 million a year, Manning said that would suffice.
“I don’t want to make a penny more than that," Manning said.
The Broncos offered $19.4 million, and when Condon told Manning the quarterback wasn't too happy.
“I told you I didn’t want to make more than Brady!” Manning chirped.
Condon apologized and asked to speak with Manning's wife, who ultimately coaxed him into accepting the deal.
Even though it was a reduction in salary from his deal with the Colts, in which Manning made $26.4 million in his first year, Manning didn't want to burden the Broncos with a huge deal. He wasn't sure how his neck would fare, so he was completely open with the team.
“They’ve got to be protected,” Manning told The Denver Post in March 2012. “That's why the whole medical -- I was as open book as I could be. I told them exactly how I feel, what I was working on. They have to know everything to make their decision."
As it turns out, the deal has worked out pretty well for both sides. Manning has racked up 26 wins in his first two seasons with the Broncos, taking Denver to the Super Bowl in 2014. He was named NFL MVP in 2013 season after setting the single-season record for most touchdown passes with 55. (Brady had set the mark of 50 in 2007.)
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