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Peyton Manning: Four Super Bowls, four head coaches

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If continuity is king in the NFL, then Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has reached the league's title game a much different way.

Super Bowl 50 will be the fourth time Manning has been behind center in the NFL's championship game, and Gary Kubiak is the fourth different coach Manning has played for that advanced to the Super Bowl.

“I’ve enjoyed learning from coach Kubiak this year," Manning said. “Continuity is always a great thing, but when you have a chance to play with some different coaches, you want to take advantage and learn from them. … I’ve learned something from all of them."

Kubiak has joined a list that also includes Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell and John Fox. Manning was the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, a 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears, which gave Dungy a ring.

Manning also started Super Bowl XLI, as the New Orleans Saints defeated the Colts 31-17. And Manning piloted the highest-scoring offense in the league’s history in Super Bowl XLVIII whrer the Seattle Seahawks cruised to a 43-8 victory.

The Broncos won four consecutive division titles under Fox and 38-10 in regular-season games in the three seasons. In the wake of the Broncos’ playoff loss to the Colts a year ago, Fox “parted ways" with the team and Kubiak was hired.

The Broncos finished 12-4 this season, going 7-2 in Manning’s nine starts and 5-2 in backup Brock Osweiler’s seven starts.

“It just tells you what he’s all about," Kubiak said of Manning. “Peyton has been successful throughout the course of his career in everything that he has done. He’s been successful as a player, as a person, he’s a tremendous person. It was tough for him, we came in new, he’d been running a system for a while, we have some things we believe in, we tried to mesh two things together, and I know it was tough on him."

“It’s Peyton Manning," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “You’re always going to be in the mix with Peyton Manning."

In contrast to the New England Patriots having had Bill Belichick as coach and Tom Brady as starting quarterback for six Super Bowl appearances, Manning’s route to his fourth Super Bowl was full of change for a player who has said he likes stability.

With a vastly different offense and a team powered by -- even by Manning's own admission -- its defense, Manning was presented with the most drastic changes of his career. From a football perspective, the Broncos have asked Manning to line up under center more, run more play-action plays and do a little more throwing on the move.

Toss in the left foot injury that forced Manning to, for the first time, miss games during a season in which he had started the opener, and Manning has called this the “most unique" season he has played in his career.

“Well, I think it’s important to be able to adapt," Manning said. “As a player, I’ve played for five head coaches -- I’ve heard from all of my former coaches this week, which has been special. ... I do think about coaches when you play in a game like this. ... Every coach has different styles, philosophies and I’ve enjoyed learning something from all of them. ... I’ve tried to apply it to my game and the way I approach things."

“He’s been great with us," Kubiak said. “It gets down to, for us, doing what he’s most confident in and him running our football team. That’s what I feel good about right now. This past month this football team has been his, and he’s taken them back over and he’s feeling very confident, very good in what he’s doing."

Despite the success, the divorce between Fox and the Broncos has been a well-worn topic at times in recent days. On Thursday, Manning was even asked if he believed the Broncos would have made it to this Super Bowl had Fox remained in place.

“Yes," Manning said. “I don’t get into comparisons. I don’t. It is easy to do, but like I mentioned earlier, I was grateful to play for coach Fox. Coming off a year, there wasn’t a lot of fun in 2011. Not playing, being injured. I had more neck surgeries than snaps that year. John Fox was a big reason why I came to Denver. We had a great three years together.”

Manning said he had heard from every head coach he has played for -- since high school -- in recent days. That's a group that includes former University of Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and Manning’s prep coach, Tony Reginelli, as well as Jim Mora, who coached Manning during his rookie season with the Colts.