Peyton Manning was a famously tough athlete, who put his body through whatever it took to win. According to former Colts punter Hunter Smith, the Sheriff would frequently play through injuries.
During Peyton Manning’s legendary 18 year career, he did it all. He was selected to 14 Pro Bowls, earned an NFL record five MVP awards, and won two Super Bowls — one with the Colts and another with the Broncos.
But of course, like for any other top athlete, injuries were inevitable on his path to success. We usually think of Manning’s miraculous comeback from an awful neck injury which sidelined him for a season before he won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2012.
However, he apparently endured a lot more. With the media getting more and more access to locker rooms and team insiders, the Colts would do all that they could to keep Manning’s injuries within the organization so as to not give opponents a competitive advantage.
Former Colts Punter Hunter Smith: “Everything was run like the Department of Homeland Security”
Hunter Smith, who was a punter on the Colts between 1999 and 2008 explained to the Indy Star a few years ago about how seriously the Colts took secrecy during Manning’s reign.
“During our tenure at the Colts facilities, we kinda treated it like national intelligence,” Smith explained. “Everything was run like the Department of Homeland Security. Nothing got out, certainly not nefarious in nature. We never let injuries out of the building.”
“Everyone knew we weren’t going to win if Peyton Manning wasn’t our quarterback. I wish you knew how many injuries No. 18 played through in his career, and how many things were kept on the down low. In particular, I know he played through a shoulder issue at one point.”
“He was just a tough guy who was going to be on the field no matter what. When it came to the neck injury, if he wasn’t able to fight through it, then it wasn’t able to be fought through. I, along with a lot of other people, owe a debt of gratitude to Peyton Manning.”