ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There's the football legacy Peyton Manning will leave when his playing career concludes: a league-record haul of MVP trophies, armfuls of records, touchdown passes by the bushel and a new standard for intense study of the game that the new generation of quarterbacks admires and strives to emulate.
All of that pales next to the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. He earned his name on the building, through fundraising, personal donations and endless personal visits with patients. Manning left the Colts, but through the hospital, and continued charity work there, he has not truly left Indianapolis.
But he can be in two places at once. Or three. Or four. The PeyBack Foundation -- established in 1999, as he went through his second NFL season -- assures that. Through it, $1 million will be dispersed to organizations and programs serving children and families, particularly those considered at risk, with the funds distributed in the stops along his life's path: Louisiana, Tennessee, Indiana, and now, Colorado.
"Everything that comes in goes right back out," Manning said. "We had a fundraiser here in Colorado last summer and all the money that we raised that's coming in, it's just a filter. It's going right back out."
Like John Lynch before him, Manning is committed to having the same kind of impact in Colorado that he did in his previous home. Lynch's foundation expanded its footprint from the Tampa Bay area to the Front Range after he signed with the Broncos in 2004, and now Manning's does the same.
But as is the case with his football life, it took his charitable side a little bit of time to get to know his new environment after arriving in 2012.
"I think I certainly feel more comfortable in my surroundings here in Denver and have more of an understanding of what the routine is, of what the culture here is as far as football is concerned. So when you do have some free time, it does allow you to do more in the community," he said. "I didn't do as much my first year, especially as you're kind of getting comfortable, and certainly had a ton of uncertainty with my injury and rehab. So it's nice to get back into more of a normal routine of the way that I've played quarterback and done things in the offseason as I used to do in years past when I was healthy under normal circumstances."
And now that Manning is settled into life here, over $600,000 of the $1 million dispersed this year will go to Colorado charities.
"We're trying to find the youth organizations that need it the most. There's a lot of kids in Colorado, more than we could touch in a lifetime. But the goal is to try, to try to make the impact and provide these funds to programs that are helping these kids, who aren't having the easiest of lives, and providing leadership and growth opportunities to these programs that are helping these children," he said. "We're proud of the number and obviously we'll keep trying to help and keep trying to raise money, give money."
Given the massive scope of his charitable involvement in Indiana during his 14 seasons with the Colts, it would seem Manning's contribution to Colorado has only just begun. It's that standard to which young quarterbacks should aspire, and not just what the future Hall of Famer does between the lines.