NEW ORLEANS -- Broncos quarterback Demaryius Thomas became just the second player in team history to earn the Associated Press' Comeback Player of the Year.
After accepting the award at the second annual NFL Honors Show held at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in New Orleans, Manning talked about what the recognition meant to him:
Was there a time you thought you wouldn't be able to come back?
"I really didn't know. You get into medical conversations with doctors and you certainly realize that there is that potential scenario. I was certainly prepared for that. I had played quite a long time and felt like I left everything out there on the field. But once the doctors said that I was cleared to play if I could get my strength back and get back to where I could preform and play quarterback at a higher level, I certainly wanted to play. I enjoy playing the game. I enjoy being out there with the guys and my teammates. It's something that I've always had a great passion for. I truly feel fortunate to still be playing and just can't tell you how thankful I am for so many people. I've thanked them all personally, but I really can't thank them enough. Family members, doctors, trainers in various organizations and teams and colleges – I just thank them all from the bottom of my heart."
Was it difficult to stay positive throughout your rehabilitation?
"I think that's a great challenge. I'm sure Adrian (Peterson) could share the same type of story that as much of a physical challenge, it's a mental challenge. For me, it's a true test of patience. There are days where you don't really make positive strides. Some days, your best days are just days that you didn't have a setback. That was a positive. This injury was really unlike any other. I couldn't find any other quarterback that had gone through this type of injury, so there really was no bar or standard or somebody's notes to copy. Myself and the trainers that I worked with really we were sort of coming up with the rehab plan as we went. But I've maintained that a positive attitude was important. I had great support from my family. That was a big deal because this thing was as much of a mental grind as it was a physical one."
Did you surprise yourself at all this year?
"I really did not know what to expect. Certainly you had the double variables of coming off an injury, not playing for a year and joining a new team with a new system and new teammates. That added a lot to my plate. It was hard to really know what to expect because I was coming into a different scenario. I'm really thankful for the Broncos organization for helping me and giving me great resources to have a comeback season. It sure was fun to be back there on the field playing again."
Will you wear a glove in the future as you did at the end of the 2012 season?
"It's hard to say. It's something that I've had to make a number of adjustments coming off this injury. That's just been part of it. That's certainly been one of them amongst other things that I have to do. I still have rehab and work to do and strength to recover. I'm not sure if I ever will, but I'm trying. That's one of the adjustments that I've had to make in order to be out there and try to play quarterback at a high level."