When Peyton Manning sees his name alongside some of the great players in history, he beams with pride.
Monday, Manning's phenomenal season earned him his second straight Associated Press Most Valuable Player Award, and he came within one vote of being a unanimous choice.
He joined the likes of Joe Montana, John Unitas, Steve Young and Kurt Warner as quarterbacks with two MVP awards. Only Brett Favre has won three times.
"I've thought of myself as something of a (football) historian and someone who appreciates those names," Manning said. "Just being with those names makes it more special, and I am very humbled to be on that list."
The Colts star, who broke records set by Dan Marino and Young, earned all but one of 48 votes from a national panel of sports writers and broadcasters. The Falcons' Michael Vick drew the other vote.
Manning, who shared last season's award with Titans quarterback Steve McNair, threw 49 touchdowns, surpassing Marino's 20-year-old record, and shattered Young's passer rating record with a 121.1.
"What I accomplished is something special teamwise," he said. "Obviously, it helps that the team is winning games, and good things come along with that."
Such as leading the Colts to a 12-4 record and AFC South title. They routed Denver 49-24 in the playoffs Sunday (voting was held before the postseason) to earn a matchup Sunday at New England.
He also turned two of his previously unaccomplished receivers, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley, into threats almost on a par with Manning's favorite target, Marvin Harrison. All caught at least 10 touchdowns and had more than 1,000 yards, unprecedented for three teammates.
"If you told me we'd have 49 touchdown passes and break Dan Marino's record, I'd have been the last person to tell you that," Manning said. "It's been a fun ride."
Manning is the first Indianapolis player to win an unshared MVP. When the Colts were in Baltimore, the award was won by Unitas (1964 and '67), Gino Marchetti (1958), Earl Morrall (1968) and Bert Jones (1976).
"When I came here three years ago, my reputation preceded me," said Colts coach Tony Dungy, considered a defensive specialist while at Tampa Bay. "There was the thought we'd win games 10-6. I'd like to thank him for making us an offensive team.
"We ask a lot of him, and he's certainly delivered."