Lorenzo Bromell isn't likely to forget the hit - and not only because it drew a hefty fine from the NFL.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Lorenzo Bromell isn't likely to forget the hit — and not only because it drew a hefty fine from the NFL.
Peyton Manning won't soon forget it either.
The collision came in 2001, when Manning was in his fourth season as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, and Bromell was a defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins.
Manning wound up with a hairline fracture of the jaw, and the now-retired Bromell secured the dubious distinction of being the only player to knock Manning out of a game. The quarterback missed only one play, but that was enough. Backup Mark Rypien fumbled a handoff on the next play, setting up the winning touchdown in a 27-24 Dolphins victory.
"It's certainly not my fondest memory," said Manning, who recounted the episode Wednesday when asked about his astounding durability, a key component to his team's bid for a second Super Bowl championship.
The league fined Bromell $15,500 for the hit, a week after fining him $12,500 for breaking the ribs of Carolina quarterback Chris Weinke.
"They said (the Manning hit) was unnecessary roughness, but to be honest with you I didn't see it and nobody else saw it," recalled the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Bromell, now a money manager in Alexandria, Va.
"You never really want to hurt anyone, but the nature of the game in the National Football League is basically kill or be killed. Obviously I don't want to hurt anybody, nobody does. It just comes with the territory."
Bromell, who played for four teams in seven seasons, finished his career with the New York Giants in 2004. Coincidentally, that was Eli Manning's rookie season with the Giants.
"I talked to him about it and said, 'I kind of hit your brother a little hard one time,'" Bromell said, sounding almost sheepish in the retelling. "He said, 'I remember,' and I told him I definitely didn't mean to do that."
The story underscores the toughness of Peyton Manning, the league's only four-time most valuable player, and is also a reminder of how infrequently he gets hit. Manning was sacked only 10 times this season.
In his 12-year career, Manning has come out of games only when the Colts were: A) holding an insurmountable lead; B) hopelessly behind, or C) protecting their stars for a playoff run.
To this day, he regrets coming out of the game for the broken jaw.
"I remember I took the hit, got up, and there was a 15-yard penalty for the blow to the face," he said. "That didn't make my jaw feel any better, but at least we got the 15 yards out of it. And I remember my right tackle, Adam Meadows, saying, 'Dude, you just don't look right. Your mouth doesn't look right.' I was like, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'You better come out.'"
It was the fourth quarter of a close game, but Manning reluctantly headed for the sidelines, blood dripping from his mouth. He wasn't wearing a mouth guard at the time because it hampered his ability to communicate at the line of scrimmage. He was fitted for one on the sideline and returned to action, but was unable to lead his team back for the victory.
"I kind of held it against myself since then for coming out for that one play," he said. "... So maybe that has a little bit to do with trying to stay in there every single play since then."
There have been a lot of questions directed to Super Bowl players and coaches this week about whether Manning could be the greatest quarterback in history. For the most part, Manning has steered well clear of them, and has taken pains to shift the focus away from individual accolades and onto the team.
But he conceded Wednesday that his durability — which takes into account exceptional blocking by his offensive line, along with just plain luck — is a real point of pride.
"If you want to call it an individual statistic, that does mean something to me," he said.
"Because it is about how you are being there for the team."
Bromell, who was unaware that he landed the only hit that knocked Manning out of a game, said the quarterback instantly earned his respect by coming right back in.
"Peyton," he said, "is one tough dude."
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