NEWARK - After 16 seasons in the NFL, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning says he is still learning about himself and the game -- which is exactly where second-year Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says he wants to be in the future.
The parallel comments came during separate segments of Tuesday's Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day event in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Broncos went first, answering questions for an hour before a lunch break and the Seahawks' session.
Throughout both sessions, no single player drew a larger crowd of cameras than Manning. At times, photographers in the back of the crowd had to stand on stepstools to see over their colleagues up front.
Manning told those reporters about the drastic changes he had to undergo after being released by the Indianapolis Colts.
"I was entrenched in one offensive system, under one culture for 14 years, so playing for a new head coach, playing for a new offensive coordinator in Adam Gase, playing with some new teammates, I'm learning new things about football," he said. "Football is a game, especially playing quarterback, if you ever stop learning, that’s when you are in trouble. You are constantly learning. I've learned a lot these past two years that has helped me stay stimulated and stay excited about the game of football."
He also told the crowd about the "cramming" he had to do with Gase and wide receiver Wes Welker during the last year, after Welker signed with the Broncos as a free agent.
"We were kind of working together right off the bat," Welker told reporters from his booth on the far side of the room. "Staying on top of things and talking through every scenario and being ready to go when the season started."
That kind of preparation and work on improvement is something Wilson admires. He told reporters that he is constantly trying to learn new things and improve.
"I want to be able to do it all, I don't just want to be in a box. I want to try to be able to make all the moves and run, I want to be able to sit in the pocket, I want to do a little bit of play action -- and just work on my craft all of the time," he said.
The difference between the two quarterbacks' outlooks is that Peyton referenced the coming of the end of his career, while Wilson was aware he was a newcomer to the professional league.
"It's not over yet. It's still playing out. This has been the second chapter of my career, and it is an exciting chapter. I'm certainly excited to be back in the Super Bowl on behalf of the Denver Broncos," Manning said.
To Manning's teammates, his experience is also a teaching tool. Coach John Fox had Manning and three other players with Super Bowl experience speak to the team in preparation for this week, but linebacker Danny Trevathan says he has relied on the lessons from Manning for a long time.
"Once I got to practice with him, I got the feel of the game a little better," Trevathan said. "He does little things you don’t see regular quarterbacks do all the time – checking, calling an audible and trying to throw you off. He has just helped me become a better person. You just pray to God you are not on the other side. You want to play with him, not against him."
Seattle has similar respect for the leadership of their quarterback, based on the comments of head coach Pete Carroll.
"He's got all the characteristics of a great leader," Carroll said. "So, even when the numbers weren't there, which everybody else focused on, we were still winning and doing good things and he was doing his part to help with that."