JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Peyton Manning steadied himself as the Cornucopia Majesty bobbed on the waves.
"Is this boat moving?" he asked, and the press corps made a collective, incoherent noise in agreement. Regardless, Manning proceeded steadily as ever as he answered and re-answered questions during the Broncos' media availability on Wednesday.
The world is painfully aware of the match-ups Manning will face Sunday, with his potent offense being hounded by Seattle's top defense. Manning in particular will be throwing into the maelstrom of arms that is the Seahawk secondary. The 37-year-old Broncos quarterback called Richard Sherman, Maxwell, and Thurman "excellent cover corners." The job is his to break them come Sunday, and Manning hinted that somewhere in a locked filing cabinet in a dark room that may or may not exist was his three-point plan to defeat them.
"I'm not sure, um... If I'm supposed to share those three keys. If I even know what they are," he concluded. "But there's no question it's a challenge."
The Broncos were certainly talking this morning, however, as John Fox called on the few Super Bowl veterans at his disposal. "Coach Fox gave the coaches and players with Super Bowl experience the platform to address the team on any piece of information they thought would be helpful," Manning said. Wes Welker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jack Del Rio, John Elway, and Manning all shared a few words, but as Manning pointed out, "We don't have a ton of players with experience, but everybody had something to say."
"My experience could be helpful to a lot of guys on the team," said 35-year-old Champ Bailey, who will be playing in his first Super Bowl. "A lot of the guys I work with everyday are a lot younger than me; they haven't seen a whole lot, but they want to learn everything. Whatever I can do to help, I don't care what position it is, if I know something, I'm definitely gonna let them know." He mentioned that Manning will even chime in if he's something on defense that could change.
"Our preparation has been really good, and that's the main goal," Manning went on. "We're off to a good start this week, but really today is important to continue that preparation."
Part of Manning's week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII has included reflecting on last year's neck injury from which he had to return. Manning had watched his oldest brother Cooper suffer a career-ending neck injury as a high schooler, and had been repeatedly reminded of that during recovery from his own issues.
"I kind of thought, maybe I've been on borrowed time this entire time," Manning said. "I was fortunate to have 20 years of health to play football," Manning said. "If that was going to be the end of it, because of a neck injury, believe it or not, I really had a peace about it."
After that, it was no longer about health, Manning says, but about returning to the absurd level of play which he, and most everyone else, is accustomed to seeing him execute.
"My family has enjoyed being a part of these Super Bowls, the ones that I have been able to play in, the ones that Eli has been able to play in. When you play in a Super Bowl, you're playing for than just your team and your teammates. You're playing for your families, you're playing for your hometowns, that's how I've always approached it."
After a long week of intense scrutiny, we'll see what Manning and the Broncos have to say on Sunday.