Yet even as he racks up numbers that could put this season among the best of his 13 with the Indianapolis Colts, he insists it all feels different. New city, new fans, new offense, new teammates, new expectations — even now, with just two games remaining.
“Every day, it’s new,” Manning, 36, said after the Broncos demolished the Ravens Sunday in Baltimore. “You try to learn something every day, get a little more comfortable at something every day. But it’s still very new. There’s no question about it.”
There is no question that the past 19 months — during which he had two neck surgeries, missed the only 16 games of his career, was released by the Colts and signed by the Broncos — brought unprecedented personal and professional upheaval. But even as Manning laments the continuing adjustments, those around the Broncos franchise say that Manning has brought unmatched professionalism and a generosity of spirit that has an impact not only on the entire organization, but the city.
“His greatness is on display publicly each Sunday or Monday night on he field,” said Joe Ellis, the Broncos’ team president for the past 15 years. “He’s much more private about all of the great things he does off the field. He’s humble about that and chooses to remain low-key. But in very, very significant ways, he helps a lot of different people.”
After the mass shooting in July at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora that took 12 lives, Manning reached out to families of victims, not for hugs in front of cameras but for private moments of support. He has obliged fans who have written asking for a short meeting and a picture, at home and on the road. At Thanksgiving, he provided more than 4,000 meals to local Boys and Girls Clubs. He bought a house.
For years, the Broncos have organized autographs during training camp by position group: wide receivers one day, offensive line the next, etc. In August, Manning signed every day.
“My dad always used to sign a lot,” Manning said earlier in the season, noting how much he learned from his quarterback father, Archie. “My mother always reminds me, ‘They’ll stop asking at some point,’ which I’m sure they will. I guess until then, you try to do it.”