Super Bowl XLVIII: Eli Manning thought Peyton's NFL career was over
Eli Manning has revealed that he was "convinced" his brother Peyton would not return to the NFL following neck surgery.
Last Updated: 30/01/14 6:38pm
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton, who will attempt to win his second Super Bowl title on Sunday, missed the whole of the 2011 season after having at least two operations on his neck, with a third being reported in the US media.
That, added to a previous neck surgery in 2010, left many, including Eli, wondering whether he would be able to regain sufficient strength to play again.
"I saw him after that first neck surgery (in 2011) and I was pretty much convinced that he was done and there was no way he could come back and play football," Eli told the NFL Network.
"We were just throwing (a ball) in the backyard of our house - we were throwing 15 yards apart and it was a lob.
"He couldn't throw 15 yards on a line, it had no pop and obviously he was worried (but) he wanted to come back and play football. He wanted to do it but I didn't think it could happen.
"He went through a couple more surgeries and kept working. A lot of it is just nerve, it takes time to come back and get that strength.
"I remember watching his first pre-season game last year and I was worried. I was like, 'I don't know how this is going to work'."
Peyton was cut by Indianapolis Colts at the end of the 2011 campaign but quickly found a new home in Denver, for whom he has played every game since joining at the start of last season.
Although questions over his arm strength linger in some quarters, his record-breaking campaign in 2013, in which he set new single-season marks for touchdown passes and passing yards as well as reaching the Super Bowl, proves his comeback has ultimately been a success.
Eli added: "Sure enough he's been able to do it and I think this year he's been stronger, his arm strength is stronger and he's been better than ever.
"It's been an amazing journey for him and what he's overcome, for me to watch him go through it and the dedication and work (he put into it) has been inspiring."