It used to be when America went on vacation, Mom and Dad packed up the station wagon, told the kids to shut up and drove off to an exciting, never-before-seen destination a whole state or two away.
Peyton Manning just finished his vacation that included a USO Tour to Afghanistan, a $500,000 donation to the foundation of his college's former women's basketball coach, delivering speeches on leadership to several corporations and accepting awards in New Orleans and Kansas City, Mo. And he got in three days of passing with his new receiver Wes Welker and returning targets Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker at Duke University.
"I wouldn't call it a summer vacation," Manning said.
Such is the jet-setting life of a star NFL quarterback — a star quarterback who happens to be employed by the Broncos for going on a second season.
Manning and most of his Broncos teammates returned to work Monday for the start of the team's offseason conditioning program at the team's Dove Valley headquarters. The conditioning and strength-resistance work will continue until the additional organized team activities begin in late-May. There will be a mandatory minicamp in mid-June. Training camp will begin in late July.
For Manning, the workouts are a welcome break from his offseason vacation. He and the Broncos last played Jan. 12, when they were upset 38-35 in double overtime in frigid conditions at home by the Baltimore Ravens.
"I think it's still a motivating factor for this season," Manning said. "We did some good things last year, but did not finish the way we wanted to. We lost our last game of the season, which there is really only one team (that didn't). I don't think that San Francisco is any happier than we are because they played in the Super Bowl. Baltimore is really the only team that probably had the most enjoyable offseason."
Enjoyable isn't the best way to describe Manning's offseason. But it was purposeful. Was he this busy during his early career offseasons? He didn't just sign a check to the Pat Summitt Foundation for the benefit of Alzheimer's disease; Manning also co-chairs the board.
Brett Favre would put on Wranglers and drive a tractor around his Mississippi ranch. Manning puts on a suit and tie and motivates corporate executives.
"February and March are two good months to kind of fulfill some commitments that you have to do," he said. "The USO Tour was something new for me. It was truly a life-changing trip. I really enjoyed the experience meeting some of the great men and women in our military. I've always tried to fulfill some of those commitments so that when the offseason program does begin, you can take care of the football workouts and our meetings and be uninterrupted that way."
He mostly gave his much-scrutinized right arm a rest until last week. After spending all of his 2012 offseason rehabbing from the affects of four neck surgeries, then attempting 626 passes, 40 of which went for touchdowns, in 17 games, 13 of which resulted in victory, Manning pretty much shut down his 37-year-old arm and body until last week.
Arriving at the Duke campus in Durham, N.C., last Monday night, Manning threw timing routes and worked out with his two favorite returning receivers, Thomas and Decker, and his newest target Welker on Tuesday and Wednesday. Manning and Welker, who spent the previous six seasons with the rival New England Patriots, stayed over for another passing and route-running session Thursday.
"I think he's gotten a little stronger, but I can't really say, because (last year was) my first time playing with a quarterback like Peyton," Thomas said. "It was fun this past year, because I'd never had balls come at me like that. I can't say much about the strength of his arm, because I never really played with him the years before he got hurt. I think it's the same."