Broncos QB Peyton Manning relishes another year of football camps

thamzik@dailypress.com
Peyton Manning worked William & Mary's Colonial All-Pro Camp on Sunday

WILLIAMSBURG — At this point in Peyton Manning's career, working football camps must be akin to knowing his playbook.

Instinctive, almost.

He's been helping with various camps for the better part of 20 years, notably the Manning Passing Academy he and his family have hosted in Louisiana since 1996.

So the Denver Broncos quarterback didn't look fazed Sunday night at William and Mary's Zable Stadium, slinging passes to some unfamiliar receivers, some whom were a couple feet shorter than him.

"I've thrown a lot of passes to lots of different receivers at different levels," Manning said. "I guess there's a little bit of a touch pass to it."

Manning worked with middle schoolers and high schoolers at W&M's 22nd annual Colonial All-Pro Football Camp, mostly running drills with receivers. He spoke to the campers about the importance of the relationship between the quarterback and receivers, and had the campers run and catch passes from him.

At least once, a kid made a diving catch and promptly received a high-five from Manning.

"It's a great reminder to me … as to how lucky I am to be out here playing a game for a living," Manning said. "It's hot out here, but you don't hear any complaints out of these kids. I love being around these young kids. It's supposed to be a fun game, you're supposed to have a passion for it. I still have a passion for it going into my 18th (NFL) season."

Manning, 39, is entering his fourth season with the Denver Broncos after sitting out 2011 with a neck injury, for which he had two surgeries. Before that, he played 13 seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, setting team records for passing yards and passing touchdowns as well as winning Super Bowl XLI in 2007.

He's won the NFL MVP five times, most recently in 2013 when he took the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVII, losing 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks.

Last year, Manning threw for more than 4,000 yards for the 14th time in his career. The Broncos lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to Indianapolis.

No. 18 Denver jerseys were a common site around Zable Stadium, and one camper wore the New York Giants' No. 10 of Eli Manning, Peyton's brother. There was a noticeable contingent of burnt orange and Tennessee Volunteers apparel.

"It says a lot about these kids, they're out here working hard during the month of June getting ready for their football seasons," Peyton Manning said. "It says a lot about them as teammates. I went to a lot of camps as a young kid. Any time you learn a couple things at a football camp, you can go back and work on them at your respective high school."

Manning is currently eight wins away from breaking Brett Favre's record of most regular-season wins by a quarterback. He deflected a question regarding that, wishing to speak more about the camp.

"I'm kind of in football camp mode at this point," he said. "We just finished our last practice on Thursday, and they encourage you to use this time to get recharged. I spend some of it doing football camps, which is still a good way to recharge. When we have training camp, we'll get back to the NFL stuff."

Manning said he appreciated Nike inviting him to the camp, which has hosted the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner over the years.

"I really enjoyed the day," he said. "I'm a big believer and supporter of football camps. I have fun just like all the kids do."

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