ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – A person with knowledge of the results tells The Associated Press that Peyton Manning has passed his physical on his surgically repaired neck, clearing the way for him to play in 2014.
In what was considered the final formality for his return, Manning passed the exam as required by his contract that will pay him $20 million next season, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because results of medical checkups typically aren't announced.
Manning won his fifth MVP award in 2013, when he set single-season records by passing for 5,547 yards and 55 TDs while guiding the Broncos to their first Super Bowl in 15 seasons.
Manning has had four neck operations, including a spinal fusion that sidelined him for all of the 2011 season. After that, he was released by Indianapolis and signed a five-year, $96 million deal with the Broncos in March of 2012. The deal requires him to pass a physical every spring to make sure his neck is holding up.
Manning, who will be 38 next season, said during Super Bowl week that he had no intention of retiring after the Super Bowl.
Although Manning's plans for 2014 became a big story line in the playoffs, the Broncos front office had proceeded as though their quarterback would be returning for another run at a title. If there were any concerns about his neck, he probably wouldn't have started all 16 games, plus three more in the playoffs.
Not only is Manning still performing at his peak level, he hasn't lost his love for the game.
Manning said upon his arrival in New Jersey for Super Bowl week that he still enjoys playing and practicing and "when you still enjoy the preparation, I think you probably still ought to be doing that."
He passed his required exit physical that all players take in the days following the Super Bowl loss to Seattle. He then played in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament just days later, another indication that his neck is fine.
Manning has gone 28-7 in his two seasons in Denver with 100 TD passes, counting playoff games.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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