Peyton Manning talks NFL Fever 2002

GameSpot speaks with the Indianapolis Colts quarterback about NFL Fever 2002 for the Xbox, the current NFL season, and more.


Earlier this month, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was announced as the official cover athlete for Microsoft's NFL Fever 2002 for the Xbox. This is the first time Manning will appear on the cover of his own football game, and he seems genuinely enthusiastic about providing his input for the game's development and working with the team at Microsoft's Xbox division.

The son of former NFL great Archie Manning, Peyton played four seasons at the University of Tennessee, garnering Academic All-America honors three times and ranking third in NCAA history in passing yards and total offense. In the NFL, Manning has blossomed even further--he set a variety of NFL rookie passing records in his first year, and he has become one of the elite young quarterbacks in the National Football League. Working with Microsoft's development team on NFL Fever 2002, Manning has brought his pro football expertise to the game's development. He has also taken part in a variety of motion-capture sessions for the game, which have in turn been used to create the smooth and realistic animation in the game. GameSpot recently had the opportunity to speak with Peyton Manning to discuss his involvement with NFL Fever 2002, the NFL in general, and his favorite pastime, golf.

GameSpot: How are you enjoying your bye week?

Peyton Manning: Yeah, I'm on a bye week and have been doing a big Xbox and NFL Fever 2002 push today. So, it's a good time to do something like this.

GS: Have you seen the game yet?

PM: I have seen it. I've played the game and have had a lot of involvement with the game. About a year ago, I went out to the Microsoft campus and did a big motion-capture day, where they put that outfit on me--all those sensor point bulbs attached to my body--and did about 300 different motions and movements. We did things like throwing motions, handoffs, three-step drops, and five-step drops. This past summer, my father and I went out and did a little chalk talk with the people working on the game. We talked about specific offenses and defenses and various NFL players. Obviously, they are still working on some finishing touches, right up until the launch date of November 15. I've played other games before, and there are other good games out there, but the actual speed, hard hits, and just the power of Xbox--the technology--puts this game over the top.

GS: Have you seen some of this input show up in the actual gameplay?

PM: Yeah, like I said, my throwing motion is my throwing motion in the game. That's kind of cool to see. It also has my voice and some other cadences. Obviously, they changed those things for the other players, and things like that. I'm all for kids out there, if you have a chance to go out there, to be outside and play a real game of football, but if you can't play outside and it's a rainy day, this is what you want to be doing. You want to be playing NFL Fever.

GS: A few athletes are still taken aback when they see themselves in a game. Is it still weird to see a replica of yourself in a football game?

PM: Certainly, it is different. It is certainly a lot of fun when you hear a kid say that you threw three touchdowns for him and he played his brother the night before and you got hurt, your backup came in, and played better than you did. [laughs]

So, you get to realize it's certainly cool to be in a game. You know, in training camp you get a bunch of guys sitting around playing a video game, and they're playing the Colts vs. the Jets. When you think about it, it's a pretty cool feeling.

GS: Well, we've played quite a bit of the game, and even in NFL Fever 2002, the play-action passes to Marvin Harrison are pretty unstoppable.

PM: Yeah, I tell you. [laughs] When I play there is no secret as to what team I am. I'm probably pretty easy to defend because I'm either going to be handing it off to Edgerrin or throwing deep to Marvin.

GS: Do you play a lot of video games?

PM: I probably don't play as much as some of my other teammates. I mean, Edgerrin James is probably the champ on our team--he's the best player. So, I'm kind of looking forward to November 15, because he hasn't played this game before and I have. I probably don't have much of a chance to beat him anyway, but this is my one chance--I have a little inside knowledge.

GS: Are you doing any promotional stuff with Microsoft, in terms of appearing in the TV commercials and such?

PM: Well, that's what I've been doing today. We did ESPN Up Close and The Last Word with Jim Rome today. We're doing a big NFL Fever push today, so it's all tied in with the off-week. It has all been a big part of trying to pump up the game and get the word out there.

GS: You guys are 2-1 and putting up huge numbers again. Is this the year we'll see the Super Bowl trophy coming to Indianapolis?

PM: Well, we certainly hope so. It is always the goal before the season. Like you said, we're 2-1. We played really well the first two weeks, and on Sunday we didn't play as well and got beat. But it's a long season, and although we have a tough season ahead of us, we feel that we have the right kind of team. We just have to go out there and make it happen.

GS: You guys are definitely one of the best offensive squads out there. Is there a favorite play that you like to run on offense?

PM: Like you said, something that has worked for us in the past is our play-action pass, when you fake it to Edgerrin and hit Marvin on a deep pass down the sideline.

GS: Is there a quarterback in the past that would compare in skill to you? Or one that you maybe looked up to, coming up?

PM: There are so many good quarterbacks out there. I don't really have a guy that I model my game after, because every quarterback tries to be unique and individual. But, I've always enjoyed watching other quarterbacks. I've enjoyed watching and studying Marino, Aikman, and players like that, because all the great ones have brought something special to the game.

GS: You came in as a starting quarterback for the Colts, but is there a veteran quarterback who helped you become acclimated to the pro game?

PM: I was somewhat different because I had my father, who played in the league before. He gave me a lot of good advice on the actual game and even stuff off the field. But certainly, I've always been open to learning, and any time I've had the chance to spend some time with a former quarterback, I always try to pick his brain.

GS: You played four full years at Tennessee and even graduated early. What do you say to athletes who come out early from college, or skip it altogether?

PM: Experience is your best teacher, and spending time in college helps you mature as a person and certainly as a player. All situations are unique, but I think it is important to get your degree. I don't blame him if a player comes out early, but he should definitely go back and get his degree. You see more athletes doing that today, which is a good thing. Like I said, experience is your best teacher, and the more games you play, the more mature you are, and the better off you're going to be in the NFL.

GS: Outside of football, what is your favorite pastime?

PM: Golf. I like playing it in the off-season.

GS: What club do you hit the best?

PM: I love to drive. I don't know if I hit it the best, but driving the ball is probably my favorite part.

GS: Do you see any similarities in how you approach the two sports?

PM: Not really. With football I'm being very serious about it, but with golf I just play with my friends and sort of enjoy the fellowship.

GS: So, it's more of a time away from football, just to relax.

PM: Absolutely.

GS: Is there any significance to picking the number 18?

PM: That was the number I wore in high school. It was also my dad's number. In college, it was really probably a case where the number 18 was not available for me at Tennessee. So, I chose 16. And then once it was available in Indianapolis, it was kind of the number I wanted to wear. There haven't been a whole lot of quarterbacks wearing number 18 in the NFL--Roman Gabriel is probably one that comes to mind. There have been a lot off good 16s in the NFL, especially Montana, so I can take something special out of 18.

GS: Good luck to you guys for the rest of the year. The Colts are definitely a lot of fun to watch.

PM: Thanks a lot.

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