Jan 26, 2014 11:49 PM by Greg Smith
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Champ Bailey turns 36 this year. Peyton Manning turns 38. Both are among the few players whose careers date back to the 20th century. And careers that long ensure that when they're within one game of a world championship, someone will ask about the notion of retiring after winning a Super Bowl.
John Elway did it in 1999. More recently, the Giants' Michael Strahan walked out on top six years ago, and Baltimore's Ray Lewis did it last year. But the Broncos' two elder statesmen do not appear to be the retiring types -- at least not yet.
Bailey and Manning might be aware of what a win Sunday would do for their legacies and how they would be remembered, but it wasn't something that consumed their thoughts. There's plenty regarding the Seahawks to keep them busy.
"Well, I'll tell you what: I know Peyton is not worried about his legacy right now," Bailey said. "I know I hear a lot about his legacy and what this game is going to mean. I think it will mean something to everybody's legacy, but that's not where our focus is. If it helps or hurts, who cares right now? We're just worried about winning."
And not about retirement notions.
"I'm not really thinking about retiring -- and if I win, what's going to happen," Bailey said. "All I'm thinking about is winning and doing what I've got to do to win the game. That's my preparation this week. After the game, that's when we'll talk about it."
Added Manning: "I've certainly had a career change two years ago with my injury, with changing teams, so I truly have been kind of a one-year-at-a-time basis. So I really have no plans beyond this game. I had no plans coming into this season beyond this year."
Bailey and Manning have had health concerns in recent years, but they're not pressing at this moment. Manning's neck surgeries of 2011 changed his career trajectory, but he rehabilitated, adjusted and just logged the best statistical season in NFL history -- and he noted Sunday that he felt "a little better than I thought I would at this point."
"Well, you would think after the season he had, he would play 10 more years," said Bailey. "We all know that's not going to happen. I'm sure he'll hang them up when it's time."
Bailey missed 11 games with a foot injury, but had recovered enough to where he looked like his old self by last week's win over New England, although he wouldn't say his foot was at 100 percent.
"I don't think any guy on any roster is 100 percent. But my foot feels good -- good enough to play, and I'm ready to go," he said.
And as Manning noted, Elway and Lewis had nothing left to give physically. That isn't the case for Bailey and Manning.
"In talking to Ray Lewis and in talking to John Elway, they couldn't play anymore. That was all they had to give and they truly left it all out there," said Manning.
Further, both their jobs, which is unlikely to change in the next seven days.
"I still enjoy the preparation part of it, the work part of it," said Manning. "Everybody enjoys the games; everybody's going to be excited to play in a Super Bowl. But I think when you still enjoy the preparation and the work part of it, I think you probably still ought to be doing that. I think as soon as I stop enjoying it, if I can't produce, if I can't help a team, that's when I'll stop playing.
"If that's next year, maybe it is, but I certainly want to continue to keep playing."
That's how Bailey feels. He knows there will be an end point, but he doesn't feel he's there.
"'Til I can't, or 'til I don't like it," he replied when asked how much longer he would play. "I really don't know. I don't think about retiring. I haven't made any plans to retire. So I'm not really going to talk about it much, because it's not in my mind."