This past Sunday Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to decisive victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Broncos are now AFC Champions and will match up against the NFC Champion Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. Peyton’s performance in this years Playoffs has been a continuation of his performance in the regular season, which amounts to the greatest statistical regular season at the quarterback position in the 94-year history of the National Football League (NFL). This regular season saw Manning set records in yards passed in a season (5,477) and touchdowns thrown in a season (55), and he led his team to accumulate more points (606) in a regular season than had ever been done before. Manning also tied the record for touchdowns thrown in a game (7) in the Broncos Week 1 win over the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens.
Any fan of Peyton Manning or the NFL generally knows that Manning is the consummate professional. He treats the fans, media personnel, teammates, and opponents with respect. He works as hard—and probably harder—at his craft than any other player in the league. And he produces one fun, family-friendly commercial after another, showing his sense of humor and a humble assessment of his own importance. But what many fans of Manning and the NFL may not be aware of is Manning’s Christian faith.
In Peyton’s book Manning (available on Amazon in Kindle here and paperback here), which he co-wrote with his father Archie Manning in 2001, the record-setting quarterback gives a rare description of his faith and its importance to him. The description is a rare one, not because Peyton’s faith is an insignificant part of his life, but because, as Peyton explains, he has intentionally chosen to speak more by his actions than by his words.
For me generally it had always been the big four: faith, family, friends, and football. . . . as important as football is to me, it can never be higher than fourth. My faith has been number one since I was thirteen years old . . .
Some players get more vocal about it . . . and some point to Heaven after scoring a touchdown and praise God after games. I have no problem with that. But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me any less a Christian. I just want my actions to speak louder, and I don’t want to be more of a target for criticism . . .
My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I looked for half my life ago. . .
I’ve been blessed—having so little go wrong in my life, and being given so much. I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don’t talk about it or brag about it because that’s between God and me, and I’m no better than anybody else in God’s sight.
But I consider myself fortunate to be able to go to Him for guidance, and I hope (and pray) I don’t do too many things that displease Him. . . . I believe, too, that life is much better and freer when you’re committed to God in that way.