Peyton Manning was every bit the gracious, funny, humble quarterback we know and love during his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday night. "No. 18 on your programs but No. 1 in your hearts," Letterman said as he introduced the five-time MVP of the National Football League.
Letterman, a long-time fan of the Indianapolis Colts, bantered with the quarterback about playing in Denver, playing for John Elway, Manning's neck surgery, "The Book of Manning" film, Andrew Luck and eventually, the Super Bowl.
"The whole family's gathered around the TV, and after the first play, I said to my son, ‘Oh, it looks like I just snapped the ball,'" Letterman said, before confiding "quarterback to quarterback" to Manning about bad games.
"In moments of trouble, I like somebody to blame. It just makes me feel better," the comedian added. "Did you talk to your center?"
And though Manning quickly came to the defense of his center Manny Ramirez, he didn't hesitate to throw some blame.
"It wasn't the center's fault. The crowd caused a snap count issue," he told Letterman. (By the way, Peyton, I love ya, but you gotta do better than that. You've got three months to figure out how to deal with those obnoxious Seahawksfans at their place and put that demon to rest.)
But when it came to playing in Denver and playing for John Elway, Manning said all the right things.
"Denver's got great fans, a great history there," he told Letterman. "I'm enjoying playing there."
Adding that he's been rejuvenated that last two years since coming to the Broncos, Manning agreed that part of the draw was playing for a team Elway was putting together.
"John's a very competitive guy that played at my age and knows what a quarterback my age needs around him to be successful, " said the 38-year-old QB. "And he wants to win now."
Elway will certainly be happy with Manning's performance in Letterman's QB Challenge - aiming the football into the window of a moving NYC taxi. After a near miss on the first try, Manning nailed the next two as they sailed right through his moving target.
"I still got it," a smiling Manning said, in a rare moment of self-praise.
Other highlights from Manning's appearance on The Late Show:
On "The Book of Manning" documentary -
"That was a great documentary. There should have been a few less crying highlights of me. Everyone thinks my dad is this great guy. You think at any point when I was three years old getting kicked in the head by my brother he might have stopped filming and maybe gone out there and stopped my brother. "No, no, gotta get this great footage!"
On being an older quarterback in the NFL -
"I can't throw the 100 mile an hour fastball anymore, but I can still strike you out by picking my throws and working the plate. I try to use the cerebral part; use my experience and still move the chains down the field and get us into the end zone."
On mics on the field hearing his "Omaha!" -
"I'm not a fan. I don't like Bill Belichick hearing our plays that we're using. I know how to fix it. You just have to say some really negative things about commissioner Roger Goodell. 'Blue 20! Blue 20! Roger Goodell is a no-good you know what,' and I think they will turn down that volume a bit."
On Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck -
Letterman: "He's a great guy."
Manning: "He is a great guy and great quarterback."
Letterman: "He can't read though."
Manning: "They don't teach that at Stanford? Just Tennessee and Ball State?"
Letterman: "That's right."
On playing in Denver:
"I've been rejuvenated the last two years. I still enjoy what I'm doing, still enjoy the preparation and still think I can help a team."
We do too, Peyton; we do too.
Did you catch Peyton Manning on Letterman Monday night? What was your favorite part of the reigning MVP's Late Show appearance? Let us know in the comments!