“Yeah, and I saw him after that first surgery, this neck surgery, and I was pretty much convinced that he was done,” Eli told NFL Network on Wednesday’s Super Bowl Live show. “There was no way he could come back and play football. That first time he went and we were just throwing it in the backyard of our house. We’re throwing 15 yards away, and it was a lob. He couldn’t throw 15 yards on a line. It had no pop. I was like, I mean — he wanted to come back and play football, and I didn’t think it would happen.”
Of course, Manning threw for more yards and touchdowns in a season than any other quarterback in NFL history since then.
“But sure enough, he’s been able to do it, and even this year, he’s been stronger, his arm strength’s been stronger, and he’s been better than ever,” Eli said. “So it’s been an amazing journey for him and what he’s overcome and for me to watch him to go through it, and the dedication to work has been inspiring.”