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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Peyton Manning: The Comeback Kid

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize in my years of watching football, it’s that it’s a lot like life which is full of feelings and strategy. They both have us tackling our problems head-on while blocking out our fears in order to protect the dreams we cherish. With any chance we get, they both equally prove how important it is to seize an opportunity in order to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves when prioritizing our life.  Someone who’s had to tackle his own problems head-on and block out fears in order to protect his dreams in these last two years was NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning.

AFC Playoffs: Closeup of Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning playing the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver, CO 1/12/2013. Image Credit: Getty Images/Peter Read Miller

AFC Playoffs: Closeup of Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning playing the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver, CO 1/12/2013. Image Credit: Getty Images/Peter Read Miller

Arguably one of the best football players of our generation, Peyton Manning, joined the Indianapolis Colts back in 1998 fresh out of the University of Tennessee. Since then he has led the team to 11 playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl title in 2006 and claimed 4 MVP titles along with appearing at 11 Pro-Bowls. However, the fourteen year marriage between Manning and the Colts organization came to an end last March as Jim Irsay, owner of the esteemed organization announced they would be parting ways after Manning could not play for the whole 2011 season due to a neck injury. The four neck surgeries the once golden boy had to endure over the last two years made him more of a liability than an asset, creating only one option for the organization, the team and the fans.

QB Manning of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass in the first quarter against the New York Jets during their January 8, 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Image Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Conversely much like any divorce, both parties can focus on a not just on an overall renewal with decreased stress and anxiety but gain much wisdom and confidence in order to start over again. It’s definitely not easy but sometimes in life, it’s worth it to take the plunge to discover one’s purpose and full potential.

While the Colts let go of Manning, “luck” was definitely on their side as they had an amazing season this year with rookie QB Andrew Luck who led the team to the AFC Wildcard Playoffs. On the contrary, Manning decided to don the blue and orange uniform a few weeks after his departure for the next part of his career and play with the Denver Broncos, a move no one saw possible since Tim Tebow was their starting QB. It proved to be one of the best moves the Broncos organization decided upon as more than 18 months after playing his last game, Manning showed critics and fans alike that he could definitely continue playing at a Pro-Bowl level.

Manning made his regular season debut as a Denver Bronco in the first prime time Sunday Night Football game, playing the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 9. It was an incredible game to watch as he was able to complete 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards; made two touchdowns and managed to avoid getting sacked or meeting with an interception. The game made history in the third quarter as Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for a 71-yard touchdown pass, marking it as the QB’s 400th touchdown of his career. That touchdown made him the third quarterback in NFL history after quarterback-stat achievers, Dan Marino and Brett Favre to accomplish such a feat and be the fastest of the three to meet that specific mark. The game saw the Broncos win 31-19 over Pittsburgh.

This past season the Broncos averaged more than 30 points per game and outscored opponents 299-138 after half-time. Impressively the “comeback kid” ranked second among starting quarterbacks as he made 37 touchdowns, threw for 4,659 yards, had a 105.8 passer rating and managed a 68.6% completion accuracy in one of his best seasons yet. Much of the Broncos roster benefited with Manning at the controls, like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker who became the organization’s youngest teammates in NFL history to receive more than 1,000-yards and 10 touchdowns in the same season; or Elvis Dumervil and Ryan Clady who proved with Manning’s contribution, the D-line and O-line improved each and every week.

Peyton Manning poses with president and CEO Pat Bowlen (L) and executive VP of football operations John Elway (R) during the news conference announcing Manning’s contract with the Broncos on March 20, 2012. Image Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Manning and his new team led the Broncos to 13 wins, suffered 3 losses but easily clinched the AFC West Division title. He has won his sixth career Offensive Player of the Month award and speculation reports that he might be NFL MVP for the 2013 season as his leadership and determination sets him apart from the others. If he does pick up the prestigious honor, it would be his fifth league MVP award.

The Broncos were fortunate enough to make it to the AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month but Manning’s comeback as fate would have it, ended up in the hands of the Ravens defense with the team losing in a devastating, 38-35.

Eric Decker, wide receiver for the Broncos conveyed his respect and admiration for Manning, telling FOXSports.com after the infamous Ravens game of what an amazing type of person the QB really was, “The way he prepared himself to get ready for this year. To miss a year and to come back and play as sharp as he did and to lead this team to where we are shows a lot about him. It makes me want to play harder for him because I respect him so much. The type of person he is, you want to compete and you want to win for him. It’s a tough loss.”

It may have seemed like the end of the road for Manning who under went quite an ordeal in these past two years but with every win, that injury seems to vindicate the damage he suffered. As he continues to rehabilitate through the year, former NFL quarterback and father of Eli and Peyton, Archie Manning told The Associated Press that his son’s doctors believe the nerves in his neck, shoulder and hand should still have room to regenerate.

With that knowledge it would mean there’s much more room for improvement in the times ahead and with the Broncos being the only team in the NFL to finish their regular season with their offense and defense in the top five, that proves they can definitely make it once again to playoffs and eventually win a Super Bowl title.

Peyton Manning told press at the Denver Broncos how the regular season which had been mostly a wait-and-see for him has been one that is gratifying and very humbling, going on to say, “I know how hard this team has worked this year, and I know how hard I’ve worked and all the help I’ve gotten along the way.”

“It’s not about whose name is on the building. It’s about the kids.” Peyton Manning with a patient at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, IN. Image Credit: St. Vincent Hospital

Most might not realize, but off the field Manning is more than just a football player—he’s a family man and a philanthropist, working hard towards bettering the future of children. In 1999, he established the “Peyback Foundation” which helps disadvantaged children in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana. Not only does he support the foundation financially, but he is active in the decisions concerning initiatives and constantly seeking new opportunities to improve and expand the foundation’s success. Since its inception the foundation has raised over $4.3 million for youth organizations in the three states. It was then a few years later in 2007 that the St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis renamed its children’s hospital to “Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent”; a hospital dedicated to providing extraordinary patient care to children throughout the state of Indiana. In 2005, Manning received The NFL Walter Payton Award for Man of the Year. The award honors not just a player’s field work, but outstanding volunteer and charity work.

Whether he’s engaged in philanthropy or making all the calls at the line of scrimmage, Peyton Manning has come a long way and there’s no stopping him now. He has persevered through the toughest of weather and proven time and time again to never give up.

After the loss from the Ravens game, Manning told FOXSports.com that even though the game was a tough one to swallow, Baltimore deserved the credit for coming in and getting a victory, and at the same time reflected on how much he personally achieved this year. “I accomplished a lot more this year than I certainly thought I would have personally, and I think this team exceeded its expectations as well.”

Broncos fans make their case for Manning in the final seconds of Denver’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 30, 2012. The Denver Broncos defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-3. Image Credit: Getty Images/Mark Reis

Peyton Manning is a personal favorite of mine and has been ever since he played for the Indianapolis Colts. His comeback this year was awe-inspiring. He has proven time and time again that with hard work, perseverance and patience anyone can achieve great success. He is one of the most dominant players of our generation and this past season, he defied the odds to make one of the most remarkable comebacks in National Football League history. He could quite possibly be one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and easily be ranked with the likes of Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers) or even Johnny Unitas (Baltimore Colts), although it’s ironic that neither Manning nor Unitas ever finished their careers with a horseshoe on their helmet but still managed to go down in history as the greatest quarterback of all time.

One of the greatest lessons I take from Peyton Manning’s comeback is that one should never give up, even when things look bleak because we should never give up trying what we reallywant to do. Whether it’s pursuing a career in sports, the arts, business or medicine, whatever it may be, proving that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Most importantly, when there’s love, inspiration and a solid dream, you can’t go wrong.

Peyton Manning can be seen as starting QB at the 2013 Pro Bowl January 27, live from Hawaii on NBC. Be sure to check local listings!


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