Peyton Manning: ‘I’m not 100 percent’ back to form

You wouldn’t know it based on last season’s performance, but Peyton Manning is not the Peyton Manning of old.

In an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” Monday, the Broncos quarterback admitted he still hasn’t returned to “100 percent” form following his 2011 neck surgery.

“I’m not 100 percent compared to what I was before my surgery, but I have made strides each season and this year felt a lot better than the year before,” Manning said, via NFL.com. “But these nerves just go at their own pace. It’s not like it’s going to have this immediate recovery one day.”

Manning missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing cervical fusion surgery, a highly-complicated procedure that clouded his career. This operation — coupled with the additional three times he went under the knife for his troublesome neck — admittedly set Peyton back.

“It was weak and I lost awareness of my arm in space, a proprioception issue,” he said. “So I just use to sit in front of a mirror and go through my throwing motions, trying to get the feel back the way I always thrown before. I was trying to throw to some receivers, so I would throw to you and the ball would go (points finger) there. That was very scary.”

What’s scarier is Manning, at 37-years-old, put up record-setting numbers in 2013, throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns en route to his third Super Bowl appearance.

The pre-surgery Manning will likely never see the field again, but he doesn’t have to. As he has proved, Peyton at less than full strength is statistically better than any healthy quarterback.

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, MSN.com, FanSided.com, and About.com. Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (zpkelb@gmail.com).