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Did you know these things about Manning?

2/1/2010

MIAMI -- Liz Merrill drew a tough assignment.

Find us 18 things we don’t know about Peyton Manning, her editors suggested.

I kind of winced when she told me about it before the AFC Championship Game kicked off last Sunday. Sure, I wanted to learn them, too. I just worried about how successful a dig even a fine archeologist like Liz could pull off in a week.

It was a tough assignment because so many key people don’t care to talk and so many who do aren’t willing to be truly candid, because so many others have set out to provide us with nuggets we don’t know about a guy who’s been named to 10 Pro Bowl teams and owns four MVP awards.

So I really enjoyed this piece.

Here’s my favorite part:

He has a huge fan in New Orleans

Every summer, Manning makes a trip back to his old high school to do some offseason conditioning. The kids at the school know the drill now, to leave Peyton alone so he can work.

So Jonathan Fisher would do that, stare for a minute maybe, then lift his weights as if nobody was there. Fisher headed home after a workout last summer when his phone rang. It was his coach, Nelson Stewart. Could he come back to school? Peyton wants to throw to him.

"I'm not going to lie," Fisher says. "I was speeding pretty bad to get back."

Manning probably could've found a bigger target that day. Fisher stands all of 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, and is nicknamed "Fishbone." But when the quarterback threw to him for an hour in the wilting Louisiana heat, Fisher caught nearly every one of his passes.

Manning didn't say much during the workout. When it was over, he shook the kid's hand and said thank you.

"I know this sounds cliché," Fisher says, "but he was just like a normal person. Not some superstar."