Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning further established himself as one of the NFL’s all-time great players Saturday.
Manning, in his 12th NFL season, on Saturday was named the the Associated Press National Football League Most Valuable Player for a record fourth time.
“There are truly a number of other deserving candidates that they easily could have won this award, and that makes it even more humbling and special for me,” Manning said Saturday. “I think at a later time that this may sink in a little bit more to me.”
Manning, in his 12th season as the Colts’ quarterback, received 39½ votes with Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints receiving seven and a half. Only quarterbacks received votes.
Manning, who two weeks ago was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team for the 10th time, also was named AP NFL MVP in 2003, 2004 and 2008. He shared the award in 2003 with the late Steve McNair, then the quarterback of the Tennessee Titans.
Manning and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (1995-97) had been the only players named AP MVP three times. Manning joins others as the leaders for MVP Awards in their sports: Wayne Gretzky (9) of the NHL, Barry Bonds (7) of Major League Baseball and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6) of the NBA.
“I’m very humbled, very honored to receive this award,” Manning said Saturday. “I truly feel like it’s a team award, and I certainly can’t speak for the voters, but I have to believe that our team going 14-0 and having seven come-from-behind wins played a big role in this award coming this way.
“So I’m just extremely grateful and thankful to all my teammates, all my coaches, everybody in the organization, our great fans. To think you can have seven come-from-behind victories without the great support of fans, then you’re mistaken.
“I just can’t thank so many people enough for their support this year.”
Manning, who completed 393 of 571 passes for 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, not only helped the Colts extend their regular-season winning streak to 23 games this season, he helped the team become the third in NFL history to start a 14-0.
Manning this season also worked with an offense that played 15 and a half games without wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who entered the season as a starter. Rookie wide receiver Austin Collie and second-year wide receiver Pierre Garcon – who played sparingly last season as a rookie – played critical roles in an offense that also featured a rookie running back, Donald Brown.
“You’ve had some major changes in personnel,” Manning said. “When you lose a receiver that’s been such a constant performer like Marvin Harrison and you replace him with young guys, there’s change there I have to believe that the way our team responded to that change, that our veterans like Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark and Ryan Diem, Joseph Addai, the way these guys just came to work everyday and didn’t let all these changes affect them, I think the way our team responded to these changes had a lot to do with the kind of season that we’ve had.
“We’ve just stuck together as a team, we’ve fought together, we’ve come out with some very close wins, and I’ve just been fortunate to be a part of that.”
The Colts this season rallied to win in the fourth quarter seven times, and in November, they registered five consecutive such comebacks, also a league record.
“It’s been a fun team to be a part of,” Manning said. “Anybody that’s watched us play has seen that we have won close ballgames. We have fought and scratched. We have not come out and dominated any teams, but we’ve come together as a team, and it’s been very rewarding to be a part of it. And I just truly accept this award on behalf of the team and the entire organization.”
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