Peyton Manning has responded to a lost season the way he reacted to all of his great seasons.
By having more great seasons.
Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team Friday. It was his seventh time as a first-teamer, tying hall of famer Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback.
The Denver star set NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air.
He was chosen on all 50 ballots from media members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning also was an All-Pro for Indianapolis in 2003, ’04, ’05, ’08 and ’09 and last season made it as a Bronco. He’s been on the All-Pro team in both seasons since missing 2011 after several neck surgeries.
“I think it’s well documented that this is the second chapter of my career, and didn’t know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury,” said Manning, a four-time league MVP who never missed a pro start before 2011. “So I had no idea what to expect, and I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of hard work in to it. But I’ve received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates. So I’m very grateful.”
Manning still has a ways to go to set the record for most All-Pro appearances at any position. Among the players ahead of him is hall of fame receiver Jerry Rice with 10.
New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Indianapolis outside linebacker Robert Mathis each drew 49 votes. Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman had 48 votes each.
Minnesota kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson was the only rookie on the squad.
Eighteen NFC players and nine from the AFC made the team. Carolina and Philadelphia each had three: linebacker Luke Kuechly, center Ryan Kalil and fullback Mike Tolbert for the Panthers; NFL rushing leader McCoy, guard Evan Mathis and tackle Jason Peters for the Eagles.
Ice Bowl II on Sunday?
Sunday’s playoff contest in Green Bay could be one of the coldest NFL games ever played, rivaling the subzero temperatures of the legendary Ice Bowl of 1967. Temperatures at Lambeau Field are expected to be minus 2 degrees when the Packers and 49ers kick off and are expected to drop as the night goes on. At the so-called Ice Bowl, also in Green Bay, it got down to minus 13.
The Packers will give fans hand warmers, packets that fit inside gloves and stay warm for hours. They’ll also provide coffee and hot chocolate.
Lambeau Field has a heating system buried beneath the turf to keep the field from freezing, but it failed during the Ice Bowl, leaving the field hard as cement. The system was upgraded in 1997 to include 30 miles of heating pipes, so players on Sunday can expect softer landings.
Packers coach Vince Lombardi didn’t let most of his players wear gloves, so several, including quarterback Bart Starr, suffered varying degrees of frostbite. One Cowboys player had respiratory problems.
Around the league
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he expects wide receiver Steve Smith, running back Jonathan Stewart and defensive tackle Colin Cole will return to practice on Wednesday. Rivera remained optimistic Friday that all three players will be ready for Carolina’s divisional playoff game on Jan. 12 against an opponent to be determined. … Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is the latest candidate to interview for the Washington Redskins’ coaching vacancy. Bisaccia met with General Manager Bruce Allen at Redskins Park on Friday. … The Pittsburgh Steelers have fired offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. after just one season. … Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery won’t be back in 2014. Ravens coach John Harbaugh says Montgomery “has decided to pursue other coaching and life opportunities.”
Vikings to investigate
The Minnesota Vikings retained a former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and a former federal trial attorney to conduct an investigation into Chris Kluwe’s allegations that he was released from the team due to his support of gay marriage.
The team made the announcement on Friday, one day after Kluwe penned a scathing article alleging that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made anti-gay comments during team meetings. Priefer has denied Kluwe’s allegations.
Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former Justice Department attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.