The 37-year-old quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, was named Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year". It was announced on Sunday during the halftime of the match between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Manning became the first-ever Bronco player and the first athlete from the state of Denver to have won the coveted award. He was formally given the award on Monday evening during a feast held at the Broncos' Sports Authority Field.
The superstar quarterback was truly thankful to have received such a prestigious award. "I really accept the award on behalf of a lot of people that have helped me," said Manning.
In May 2011, Manning had to undergo a neck surgery to improve his neck pain as well as to relieve the weakness in his arm that he had to deal with during the preceding seasons. He underwent another surgery four months later, which made him miss the entire 2011 season.
"I realised that being injured and coming back from injury and playing is probably a large reason why I received this award," Manning said.
After not being able to play due to his injury, he was let go by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, 2012 before he was signed by the Denver Broncos a couple of weeks later. He was able to lead the Denver to an 11-3 record this season.
Manning said when he accepted that award that he dedicate it to the people who have helped and supported him.
"I do feel that my comeback has inspired some people," said Manning.
Miami Heat star Lebron James was the winner of the Sportsman of the Year Award in 2012. Manning became the fourth quarterback to receive the prize in the last 9 years. Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees took the honour in 2005, 2007, and 2010, respectively.
According to Sports Illustrated writer Pete King, the sports journal took Manning's performance all throughout his entire career into deliberation.
"Manning has persevered," said King. "He's winning and he's still at his best," he added.
Aside from Manning, Boston Red Sox hitter David Ortiz and New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera were both being considered too, according to Sports Illustrated managing editor Chris Stone.
He retold a story that shows Manning's sportsmanship when the quarterback approached Ray Lewis following a tough loss in January.
"I think it (the award) speaks to the type of athlete and individual that Manning is," said Stone.
It was a great choice, don't you think? Manning is truly awesome and he showed amazing sportsmanship and attitude on and off the field.
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