Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was named NFL Most Valuable Player for the third time by The Associated Press on Friday, tying Brett Favre for the most honors.
Manning was a landslide winner in balloting by a US-wide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL. Manning also was the league MVP in 2003, when he shared it with Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair, and in 2004.
Favre, then with Green Bay, took MVP honors in 1995 and 1996 before sharing it with Detroit running back Barry Sanders in 1997.
“I know it’s an individual award, but ... truly, in my opinion, a team award,” said Manning, who received 32 votes, far ahead of Miami quarterback Chad Pennington (4) and Atlanta running back Michael Turner (4). “It’s been the most rewarding regular season that I’ve been a part of in my 11 years, and I have to believe a lot of the other players and even coaches might feel the same way.”
This has been a most unusual season for the Colts, who normally have the AFC South division just about clinched by the end of November. Manning had two operations on his left knee in the preseason, cutting into practice time, blunting his usual precision as a passer.
From there, with Manning becoming sharper by the week, the Colts won nine straight games to secure a wild-card berth and a meeting with San Diego next Saturday.
In that nine-game streak, Manning was 209-of-290 for 2,248 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only three interceptions. He extended his NFL record with his ninth 4,000-yard season.
Manning called the award emblematic of what others, including Colts owner Jim Irsay, president Bill Polian and coach Tony Dungy, did to help rally the team to make the playoffs for a seventh straight season.
“I really accept this award on behalf of the team and the organization because there is no way we would be in the playoffs and bounced back without those three people creating a winning environment,” he said.