Sportress of Blogitude

Peyton Manning says he has to work to connect with younger teammates

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At the age of 39 and entering his 18th NFL season, Peyton Manning understands all too well he’s no spring chicken, which is why he admits that he has to put in a concerted effort to connect with his far younger Denver Broncos teammates, something made that much more difficult when many of them can say they idolized the quarterback when they were kids.

“It’s a conscious decision,” Manning said, via ESPN. “But I try to study the bios, get to know them, talk to them, introduce myself, the sooner we can get to work together, the better. If you’re going to succeed you need everybody, I know that, I understand it. I really do.”

Manning, who insists he’s not thinking about retiring at the moment, says the fact that  younger players are at entirely different points in their lives, both personally and professionally, makes bridging the generational divide that much more difficult.

“You’ve got to work at it,” he said. “When you first get in [the NFL] and you don’t have kids, you’re the same age and you’re all kind of doing the same things. But now things are different, life is different, things change when you have kids. It changes your time; it changes your life. …”

With nearly half of the players comprising the Broncos’ 53-man roster under the age of 24, Manning realizes that his age may make him unapproachable in some ways.

“I understand it’s different for me now, and I understand I need to be more conscious of it, work at it, understand it,” he said. “A couple years ago I think one of the rookies said: ‘I was 5 years old when you were a senior at Tennessee.’ I don’t want to hear that, but it teaches you a quick lesson of where you are and what you need to do.”

While it must be sobering indeed for Manning to hear things like that from a teammate, his age and experience serves him well when it comes to the respect he commands from the younger players, which helps him serve in his capacity of team leader.