Peyton Manning’s secret workouts at Duke a key to his rehab

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Peyton Manning could have gone anywhere and worked with anyone while he rehabbed from neck surgery last year.

But Manning chose to work with one of the people he trusts the most.

Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune details the lengths Manning went to rehab on his terms with trusted confidante David Cutcliffe at Duke University, showing both his loyalty and desire to keep things quiet.

Cutcliffe was Manning’s college offensive coordinator at Tennessee, and Duke’s indoor facility was an off-the-beaten-path place to work.

“It was really kind of a fun experience for he and I both,” Manning said. “We kind of both got to go back in time, if you will. I can’t thank him enough for sacrificing that time for me.”

After his third neck surgery on Sept. 8, 2011, Manning didn’t throw a football until late December, when he made the first of several trips to Durham, N.C. He stayed in a guest room at Cutcliffe’s home, and the Duke coach didn’t even tell his assistants who was dropping by.

“Our equipment people knew he was there,” Cutcliffe said, “and that was it.”

For months he’d work out quietly, with a few spare players.

In March, Cutcliffe put Manning through the most grueling workout, a recreation of his 2009 AFC Championship Game win over the Jets, replaying every play from that day.

Manning flew in former Colts teammates Jeff Saturday, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark, current Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley and former Colts offense coordinator Tom Moore for the simulation.

“It was pretty impressive,” Stokley said. “It showed you exactly what kind of detail Peyton went to in trying to get back. Most people would never even think about doing something like that.”

After evaluating the tape of that practice, and comparing it side-by-side with the Jets game, Cutcliffe was able to pronounce Manning was back.

“He was on it,” Cutcliffe said. “Some throws were better than what he did before, with the amount of the velocity, the throws across the field. His conditioning, his legs were back.

“Afterward, guys were saying, ‘Dang! This is Peyton.'”

While it might be a bit of a stretch to say he looks like the old Peyton, he looks close enough to himself for the Broncos, thanks to the work Cutcliffe did during the winter.

9 responses to “Peyton Manning’s secret workouts at Duke a key to his rehab

  1. morgusthemagnificent

    I’ve wondered that myself.

    Guys like Jamarcus Russel, Jeff George, Ryan Leaf, all had amazing– AMAZING sets of natural ability. If Jamarcus had had a decent head on his shoulders he would have been a joy to watch, he looked like he could sling a ball 150 yards on one knee.

    I heard one pundit to this day swear Jeff George threw the most beautiful ball he’d ever seen– Marino included.

    It’s always a shame to see players with so much going for them just piss on an opportunity for greatness.

  2. Manning is Manning because of the great calls he makes before the snap. The best Qb in the game. Who cares if he can’t throw 80 yards anymore he can still make perfect pin point throws from 40 yards away.

  3. morgusthemagnificent says:
    Oct 27, 2012 3:44 PM
    Dude is dedicated; just imagine how nasty guys like cam newton or jamarcus Russell would be if they worked as hard as Peyton.


    Exact reason I don’t like his brother. No one will argue his physical talents exceed Peyton’s, but his work ethic just isn’t there.

  4. Hey cam Newton, put that in your suggestion box. If you want to be the best, you have to work hard and be determined. Get your chit together or else you’re gonna be the next man out of this league while Peyton Manning still playing at a high level in his 40s.

  5. People can say silver spoon all they want. No doubt that having a family where money wasn’t an issue didn’t hurt things, but three things made Peyton Manning the best quarterback this game has seen.

    Heart, Desire & Work ethic, and money can’t buy any of the three.

  6. You mean those super secret Duke workouts that were talked about every single night on Sportscenter for 2 months?

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