JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Speculation that Peyton Manning might hang 'em up after this season started spreading to the point that no one knows where it started.
First things first at Super Bowl XLVIII: Manning has let it be known he isn't going anywhere.
The Broncos have a guaranteed $20 million salary waiting for Manning next season. The grand plan is for Manning to collect that dough while hopefully defending the Super Bowl championship the Broncos can earn Sunday by defeating the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in nearby East Rutherford.
“A number of players have walked away as champions,” Manning said during his first news conference of Super Bowl week.
“I'm sure that's a great feeling for those people. John Elway. Ray Lewis did it last year. Michael Strahan,” Manning said. “Talking to Ray Lewis and talking to John Elway, they couldn't play any more (physically). That was all they had to give. They truly left it all out there.
“I still enjoy playing football. I feel a little better than I thought I would at this point coming off that (neck fusion) surgery. I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it. Everybody enjoys the game. Everybody is going to be excited to play in the Super Bowl.”
Wait for it. Manning finally delivered his intentions.
“I think when you still enjoy the preparation, the work part of it, I think you sought to be still doing that,” he said. “When I stop enjoying it, when I can't produce, when I can't help the team, that's when I'll stop playing. If that's next year, maybe it is. I certainly want to continue to keep playing.”
Including the playoffs, Manning has thrown for 59 touchdowns and 6,107 yards in Denver's 15-3 season. Does that seem like he can no longer produce or help the team?
Manning is coming back for the 2014 season. And then he has two more years on his Broncos contract, though his $19 million salaries in 2015 and 2016 aren't guaranteed.
First, there is one more game to finish this season.