As NFL free agency officially gets going on Tuesday afternoon, the number one name on the market is none other than Peyton Manning. It’s a process that is new to Manning and teams have been trying to find a way to get the future Hall-Of-Famer to their city, the hope being that they can turn the most important position in team sports over to arguably the greatest maestro the NFL has seen at the position. Manning reportedly met with the Miami Dolphins yesterday, he was in Arizona this past weekend, and the first visit he made in his recruiting tour was in the Mile High city with Denver Broncos.
Even though the Broncos made a magical late-season run all the way to the second round of the playoffs with Tim Tebow running the show, an opportunity to get a future Hall-Of-Fame quarterback doesn’t come around very often, and the Broncos were wise to make their pitch to Manning as they look to gain control over a winnable AFC West. There are many questions that still remain when it comes to Manning and what he will consider when weighing all of his options, but the most sought after free agent this offseason would turn the Broncos, Cardinals, or any other team that is lucky enough to land him into an instant Super Bowl contender.
Brandon Stokley joined KKFN in Denver with the Drive to talk about having Peyton Manning in town, if he and Manning are still close, the story of him and Manning playing catch at a park near his house, what Manning’s work ethic is like based on having played with him for many years in Indianapolis, and how healthy Manning appeared to him when Manning came to visit the Broncos.
On Peyton Manning being in town:
“It was fun. I was just glad he decided to come visit here. To make it his first visit you’ve got to think that he has a lot of interest in maybe choosing Denver as his place to play. I was excited he was coming to town.”
How close he and Manning are:
“We’re close friends definitely and we don’t get to see each other as much as when I was there obviously but still very close friends.”
On the story of him and Manning going to a park to play catch and how it came about:
“The first thing is I had a field picked out so I’m like ‘okay I’ve got a nice, new field we will be able to go there and if you want to throw I’ve got a place for us’ because he wasn’t sure and he was tired so he woke up and was like ‘okay let’s go throw.’ We headed off to the park, I packed my son and his friend, and my son is walking out the door with his Peyton Manning jersey on. I said ‘wait a second, wait a second I think you need to change the jersey.’ He said ‘what jersey? Can I put on Brett Favre?’ I said ‘no, no Brett Favre.’ So he put on his Victor Cruz jersey and we get into the car and we’re going to the little field I had picked out and we’re driving up there with three balls and we’re ready to go. We pull up to the field and there’s 30 cars there and there’s a Lacrosse game going on there. (Host: Of course it is Saturday morning.) I know but it’s 8:00 in the morning! Who plays Lacrosse at 8:00 in the morning? So I have no plan B. I’m like every field in Denver is going to be taken now. Like ‘what am I doing? I’m supposed to have this taken care of. This is my one job to have taken care of and I’m screwing it up.’ We drive back to the house and I’m like ‘well I guess we can throw it in the driveway because we just want to play catch.’ We start throwing in the driveway and it’s good, I mean I can’t run routes or anything but he’s getting some good throwing in. Then my wife, being the brilliant person she is, realizes we have a little field in our neighborhood that would just be perfect. Out and about, nobody can see us, so we head over to that field, just me and him, and we’re ducking and dodging the joggers and bicycle people, people riding bikes, every time somebody rides by in a bike one of us puts the ball under our shirt and just turns the other way. We end up getting some good work in, probably about 35 or 40 minutes and nobody recognized us or anything so it was great.”
On Manning’s work ethic:
“His work ethic seriously is second to none. When we were at Duke I told Dallas (Clark) I feel like I’m in Training Camp. We had everything set-up and it was like almost full-scale practices that we were going through. Then to come here, he has been travelling all around the world, for him to say ‘hey let’s try to get the throwing session in if we can,’ it just speaks, I know if it were me I’d be like I’m sleeping in and I’m resting up. This guy puts everything into it. That’s why he is what he is.”
How healthy Manning looks:
“I mean I think he looks as good as he has ever looked to me. I think he is back to normal. I thought he looked great a week and a half ago when I was with him and we threw for three straight days and he had thrown two straight days previous, so that’s five days in a row. He looked great doing that and he looked even better when he threw it to me I guess it was on Saturday. He looked even better then and he had three or four days off where he hadn’t thrown at all. To me he looks like he did six years ago.”
Listen to Brandon Stokley on KKFN in Denver here (Audio begins 28:50 into the podcast)