Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning refused to confirm if he is heading for retirement after his Super Bowl 50 victory, but he did promise a celebratory alcohol-filled night in San Francisco.
The 39-year-old became the first starting quarterback to win the NFL’s biggest prize with two different teams, although he took a back-seat as Denver’s brilliant defence, fuelled by pass-rushing Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, did the damage in a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Manning threw for a mere 141 yards and tossed an interception in a performance that typified his struggles in 2015 as Denver’s offence complied just 194 offensive yards, the fewest by a winning team in Super Bowl history.
Nevertheless, this victory could provide him with the perfect sign-off, even if he did refrain from stating whether he was shuffling off into the sunset after claiming his second championship, just as former Broncos quarterback and current general manager John Elway did in 1999.
“I’ll take some time to reflect,” Manning said among the gold ticker tape at Levi’s Stadium.
“I have a couple of priorities first. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids, I want to go hug my family. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight. I promise you that!
“I’m going to take care of those things first, and say a little prayer to thank the man upstairs for this great opportunity. I’m just very grateful.”
Expanding on that at his podium in the bowels of the ground, Manning mentioned how he had heeded the words of his former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy about not making any rash decisions.
Manning added: “I talked to him last week and he called me and said, ’I need to talk to you’. He got some good evidence from Dick Vermeil and Bill Cowher about not making an emotional decision, one way or another.
“I thought that was good advice – let this sink in. It’s been an emotional week, emotional night and the night’s just beginning. I look forward to celebrating. I think I’ll take some time after that. I’ll enjoy tonight and take it one step at a time.
“I’m going to follow old coaches’ advice and I think I’ll make a good decision and I think I’ll be at peace with it whichever way it goes. I’m looking forward to tonight, being with my family and my friends, some team-mates and celebrating a special victory.”
Manning’s possible swansong stole the headlines but the story of the game was the Broncos defence’s harassment of recently-crowned 2015 MVP Cam Newton as they produced seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits.
The normally-upbeat Newton was in a sullen mood afterwards as he uttered short answers to the press with a team hoodie pulled up over his head.
“They just played better than us, I don’t know what you want me to say,” he stated. “They made more plays than us, and that’s what it came down to. We had opportunities. There wasn’t nothing special that they did.”