Indianapolis — Peyton Manning's passion for football runs through his veins.
His dad played, his older brother played, his younger brother still plays and now Peyton is working feverishly to return to the family business.
There's no doubt Manning wants to come back in 2012, the question is whether it's too risky for a 35-year-old quarterback with three neck surgeries in less than two years to keep playing such a violent sport.
"If he is healthy and he is pain free, I'd let him play, knowing there's a slightly elevated risk (of a different disk injury)," said Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. "Even a person off the street with this type of surgery has an elevated risk of an adjacent disk injury. He (Manning) might have a slightly higher risk than the person off the street, but you have to offset that against the fact that he's a superior athlete."
Cohen has not treated Manning but knows the procedure and recovery process well. The surgeon makes an incision in the front of the neck, removes the soft disk tissue between two vertebrae and fuses the bones together with a graft. Normally, it takes three to four months for the bones to firmly heal.
Manning needed the surgery to fix a damaged nerve that was causing weakness in his throwing arm.
Why would Manning give up his football career?
He doesn't need money. Since entering the league as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft, Manning has signed three contracts with the Colts worth a total of $236 million and earned millions more in endorsements.
He doesn't crave fame. Manning doesn't even use the popular social networking sites and has increasingly done his charity work behind the scenes.