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Peyton Manning wins NFL MVP Award

NEW YORK (AP) - Maybe the award should be renamed Most Valuable
Peyton.
Peyton Manning became the first player to win The Associated
Press NFL Most Valuable Player honors four times. The Indianapolis
Colts' sensational quarterback romped to the award Saturday in
balloting by 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the
league.
He received 39½ votes to 7½ for Drew Brees of New Orleans. Only
four players - all quarterbacks - earned votes. The other two were
Philip Rivers of San Diego (2) and Brett Favre of Minnesota (1).
Manning also won in 2003, 2004 and 2008, breaking a tie with
Favre at three MVPs.
"I'm very humbled and grateful to be honored with this award
and I really feel like it is a reflection of our team," said
Manning, who guided the Colts to a 14-0 record before they rested
starters in the second half of two games and finished 14-2.
"I have to believe that starting 14-0 and having seven comeback
wins has a lot to do with this award coming our way, and I'm very
grateful to all the players and the coaches and our fans, who were
a big part of it. There were a number of other extremely deserving
candidates."
The Colts play in the divisional round next week and have
home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The Super Bowl is
Feb. 7 in Miami, the same place they won it three years ago.
Manning threw for 4,500 and 33 touchdowns this season. Perhaps
most impressive, he led the Colts to all those comeback victories.
The 33-year-old quarterback has started every game in his career,
192 in the regular season and 15 in the playoffs.
He is durable and dynamic, dependable and decisive. In other
words, most valuable.
"He's been such a highly accomplished performer year in and
year out. Just when you think you've seen his best, he improves
upon it," said Jim Caldwell, who succeeded Tony Dungy as coach and
benefited from the same kind of performances Manning gave Dungy.
"This year is one of those in terms of when you look at his
numbers and how he's been able to play consistently well over a
long period of time. It's been remarkable.
"I think a lot of it has to do with his drive. He just has an
innate sort of will to excel. He never gets bored with it. That, I
think, is highly unusual."
Manning joined the truly elite of team sports: Wayne Gretzky
(9), Barry Bonds (7) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), the leaders for
MVP awards in their sports.
"I'm not comfortable having my name on that list or drawing
comparisons to those guys," Manning said Saturday. "I think all
of those people would probably echo the sentiments that I had
before about being very humbled, especially in football which I
think is the ultimate team game."
Manning, the 2007 Super Bowl MVP when he won his only league
championship, noted the support and stability he's enjoyed in his
career.
"I've been the beneficiary of having the same owner, the same
team president all four times," he said. "I've received great
coaching from our head coaches and assistants and a number of
different teammates who have all had a huge impact on me."
But even when Dungy turned over the coaching to Caldwell last
year, Manning and the Colts adapted.
"This offseason brought more change than any other year around
here," he said. "We have had that consistency till this year,
with losing a head coach and Marvin (Harrison), sort of replacing
by committee with a group of young receivers. I think dealing with
those changes says a lot."
Manning lost his longtime favorite receiver, Harrison, this
season. Harrison's replacement, Anthony Gonzalez, went down with a
right knee injury in the opener.
Manning simply turned to his latest fave, Reggie Wayne, who had
100 catches for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns. And to Dallas Clark,
who joined Tony Gonzalez as the only tight ends with 100 receptions
in a season when he grabbed exactly that many for 1,106 yards and
10 scores.
Plus, Austin Collie tied for the rookie lead in receptions with
60 and scored seven times. Pierre Garcon, nurtured in dozens of
passing sessions with Manning, developed into a prime deep threat
and averaged 16.3 yards on 47 catches, with four TDs.
"What he's been able to do this year with Pierre and Austin -
and obviously Dallas had a year that will go down in the record
books," linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "And
I think it really says something when you can work young guys like
that."


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