Eli told NFL Network on Wednesday’s “Super Bowl Live” show that Peyton could barely throw a football after his first surgery.
“Yeah, and I saw him after that first surgery, this neck surgery, and I was pretty much convinced that he was done,” Eli told NFL Network. “There was no way he could come back and play football. That first time he went and we were just throwing it in the backyard of our house. We’re throwing 15 yards away, and it was a lob. He couldn’t throw 15 yards on a line. It had no pop. I was like, I mean — he wanted to come back and play football, and I didn’t think it would happen.”
Peyton missed all of the 2011 season because of his neck. He became a free agent and signed with the Denver Broncos in 2012, and Eli says as recently as the 2012 preseason he was worried about how his brother would do.
“I remember watching his preseason game last year and I was worried. I was kind of like, ‘I don’t know how this is going to work,'” Eli said. “If you gotta make a throw, or someone’s in your face, and you can’t step into the throw, can you make all those throws that you gotta make a lot of to end games.”
Peyton underwent neck surgery in May 2011 and then had cervical fusion surgery a few months later in September that led him to miss the entire season. We heard reports about how much Peyton was struggling with his arm, but over time he was able to regain his arm strength.
Peyton still doesn’t throw the prettiest ball in the league, but he gets it where it needs to go, and his ability to read defenses and coverages allows him to find the open man like few other quarterbacks. He’s had two great seasons with Denver and will likely be MVP this season. Eli, meanwhile, threw for just 18 touchdowns and a league-high 27 interceptions this season. Who figured Peyton would be thriving and Eli would be struggling at this point?