On verge of likely MVP, Manning calls season 'most rewarding'

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Saturday night, he'll lead the Colts against the Chargers in San Diego.

Odds are Peyton Manning will do so as a three-time NFL MVP. The announcement of the Associated Press Award comes out Friday.

"I'd be very surprised if he doesn't win based on how we played and what we had to do to get back in it and the performance he's had the last nine weeks of the year," Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said. "I said after we left Pittsburgh (on Nov. 9) that I would vote for (Pittsburgh linebacker) James Harrison. If I was voting today, I'd vote for Peyton Manning."

Manning acknowledged the possibility Tuesday in his weekly talk with local reporters, and said it would amount to a team award.

"I know it's an individual award, but it would truly be, in my opinion, a team award," he said. "In football terms, let me make this clear, adversity going on in the world right now with the war and the economy, that's real adversity, but in football terms we have been through some things this year. For us on offense, like I said, me not being as comfortable as I wanted to be early in the season [following two knee surgeries], and then all of a sudden I lose my biggest security blanket in my center, Jeff Saturday. That was a pretty good 1-2 punch to start the season.

"The fact that we've persevered through some of these things and put ourselves in a place here in the postseason, it's been the most rewarding regular season that I've been a part of in my 11 years, and I have to believe a lot of the other players and even coaches might feel the same way. So, it would be a nice thing on behalf of the team. I really feel that way."