Englewood, Colo. • Peyton Manning apparently didn’t need much time off after throwing for an NFL record 55 touchdowns, winning his fifth MVP award and leading the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl.
His busy offseason has included trips to pay respects to retiring stars such as David Letterman and Derek Jeter, and visits to college campuses across the South just like in the 1990s when he was a star recruit known more for being Archie’s son.
Denver’s 38-year-old quarterback raised eyebrows at NFL headquarters and the hackles of some Tennessee fans in April after visiting Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at the same time as his offensive coordinator, Adam Gase. Denver’s brain trust shared secrets with Tide coach Nick Saban, who said he met them separately to avoid violating NFL rules.
He also visited Oklahoma State, where he reportedly received a six-figure speaking fee for an hour’s talk a few days after giving the keynote address at the Boy Scouts’ annual breakfast in Denver for free.
This, of course, is in addition to the notorious hours of film study, rehab and throwing he does on his own just to get ready for the offseason work he puts in at Broncos headquarters.
Then there’s his toddler twins that keep him busy during whatever free time he does have.
"Staying active, I think that’s what I try to do," Manning said after the Broncos’ first 11-on-11 workouts of the offseason Wednesday. "I don’t really enjoy just sitting around doing nothing. Obviously, I rarely get a chance to do that. Anytime I’m home, I’m playing, playing a lot of T-ball right now with the kids and playing, staying pretty busy there."
And on the road.
"David Letterman’s retiring so I enjoyed getting to see him. I’ve been on his show a couple times and he’s an old Indianapolis guy. I enjoyed that. Went to the Yankee game, saw Derek Jeter, who’s retiring," Manning said. "All these guys are retiring."
That doesn’t mean Manning’s doing his own retirement tour, just that he’s a restless soul.
"Speaking at graduation, (my wife) Ashley went to Virginia, and I enjoy being around young people," Manning said. "That’s where the future is and anytime you have a chance to spend time with them, I think the reason I was picked to speak at UVA’s graduation, the students picked because they said I’d been their top choice in fantasy football for four years. So that was the criteria. So I was proud to receive that honor."
Even Manning’s free time is spoken for — his foundation on Wednesday announced $1 million in donations to community agencies in Colorado, Tennessee, Louisiana and Indiana serving youth and at-risk children and families.
"I think I certainly feel more comfortable in my surroundings here in Denver and have more of an understanding of what the routine is, of what the culture here is as far as football is concerned. So when you do have some free time, it does allow you to do more in the community," Manning said. "I didn’t do as much my first year, especially as you’re kind of getting comfortable, and certainly had a ton of uncertainty with my injury and rehab.
"So it’s nice to get back into more of a normal routine of the way that I’ve played quarterback and done things in the offseason as I used to do in years past when I was healthy under normal circumstances."
Of course, when he’s on the football field, Manning’s all business.
He’s getting used to new receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer and a shuffled offensive line that features the return of blindside protector Ryan Clady. And he’s facing a revamped defense that includes free agent acquisitions DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, whom Manning called "probably the toughest corner that we played against last year."
One thing Manning didn’t do in his bustling offseason was accompany teammate Wes Welker to the Kentucky Derby, where the slot receiver’s luck extended beyond the racetrack and into the cashier’s window. A member of his group who was sent to collect his winnings was accidentally overpaid nearly $15,000 on what should have been a $42,000 windfall.
Afterward, Welker was seen giving away $100 bills to strangers in lieu of autographs.
"I’ve been to the Derby many a time, living in Indy," Manning said. "It sounds like he had kind of a hot day I guess."
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