After nearly two decades in the NFL, Peyton Manning has put together a lifetime of records, highlights and memories.

But the one seminal moment of his career? It wasn’t the Super Bowls.

“Maybe finally beating the Patriots (in the 2007 AFC Championship) would be the one,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The Super Bowl (win against the Bears), it’s not like you think back on that game and you (have all these memories). You remember the opening kickoff (by Devin Hester) going the other way by Chicago. Really, that whole playoff, I think of Bob Sanders more than I think of any other Indianapolis Colt. To me, he really was the MVP of Indianapolis that entire postseason.

“That’s kind of the complicated part about Peyton,” La Canfora continued. “That postseason, he was not good. They couldn’t score a touchdown in Baltimore. They beat them 15-10 or whatever. It was all field goals – a lot of long field goals. They couldn’t do anything inside the red zone. Again, it was Bob Sanders who electrified that defense and made plays on the ball and helped in the run game substantially. I thought you could have made the case for the running back as the MVP of that Super Bowl, not really Peyton.

“Obviously the next time he wins, this past year, he was completely a passenger for the most part. Really, two drives of that entire postseason that will stick out (were) both the opening drive of games – the Patriots game and the Super Bowl. After that, it was don’t let him throw it too much and hold on tightly.”

Manning, it seems, held on tightly over the past few weeks, deciding whether to retire or play in the NFL at the age of 40. In the end, his head won out over his heart.

“The reality is, we don’t get to control everything about our careers for the entire career,” La Canfora said. “The market speaks and your body speaks. Your body of work speaks, and there was nowhere to go. The good teams don’t need quarterbacks and the bad teams aren’t close. The bad teams need to play young guys because they need to figure out how to get good over the long haul. This is not a guy who had time on his side anymore. He cheated Father Time a couple of times. . . . Do I think if the perfect storm arose that he would realistically think about playing? Yeah, but he’s got his agent telling him, ‘I don’t really have anything for you.’ And he’s got this dad and his family telling you, ‘Where do you think you’re going? How could it ever end better than this? Do you want to go out on a stretcher?’”

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