He was the MVP of a victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI. He threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in each of his Super Bowl losses, to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV and to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Given that Super Bowl 50 will be his fourth trip to the league’s title game, Manning is the Broncos' most experienced player, not only in total years in the league (18) but, in the swirl that is the big game.
Manning said he has taken more from winning than he has from losing.
“I can’t say there are a lot of positives in going through a Super Bowl loss,’’ Manning said. “It’s not a fun experience. Does it fuel you? Yeah. I think it depends on who you are and kind of what drives you. But when you play in the NFL, it’s driven me every year to try to be a better player than I was the year before and to try and do my best for the team. That’s kind of the case this year. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be going back to a Super Bowl, and I can certainly attest that winning is a lot better than losing."
If experience does indeed matter in Super Bowl 50, the Broncos have a large advantage over the Carolina Panthers, starting with Manning.
The five-time league MVP has completed 68 percent of his passes in three previous Super Bowl trips, with three touchdowns and four interceptions. At 39 years old, he will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl.
Overall, the Broncos have 18 players who have played in a Super Bowl, 16 of whom were with the Broncos for the team's 43-8 loss to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos have four other players -- linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., defensive end Derek Wolfe and linebacker Lerentee McCray -- who were on injured reserve when the Broncos advanced to the title game against the Seahawks.
“Maybe it helps to know how to approach it, leading up to the game,’’ Harris said. “I think this team learned what to do, what not to do. But mainly, when the game starts, then it’s just who plays better.’’
The Panthers have only six players who have played in a Super Bowl. Quarterback Cam Newton isn’t one of them, but he is expected to win the league’s MVP award this season, and the Broncos say they have seen him play well in big moments.
“Cam? He’s an elite player. He can do it all,’’ Miller said. “He’ll be ready to play, and when you have a guy like that, that kind of settles everybody down because they see him out there making plays. They’re not going to be nervous and all that. They’re just going to play.’’
Perhaps a championship résumé gets a team through the week before the Super Bowl, but once the ball is kicked and flashes light up the stadium, Manning believes it’s about what happens in the present, not the past.
“I still think it comes down to the preparation during the couple weeks, and it still comes down to the actual play on the field on the actual Sunday,’’ Manning said. “I can’t say that [experience] helps or hurts one way or the other.
"I know we’ve got a number of players who’ve been in a couple. We’ve got a lot of players going for their first time. I was visiting with [linebacker] Shane Ray and [cornerback] Taurean Nixon the other day, and I said, ‘I wish I would’ve gone to a Super Bowl my rookie year.’ We won three games that year. We were done in November. It was over. These guys that have been here three years, it’s their second [Super Bowl] in three years.
"I try to remind them that’s not the norm, and don’t take it for granted.’’