Peyton Manning Dishes on the Free Agent Process; Insists he didn’t Pick an AFC Team to Avoid Facing his BrotherMarch 29, 2012 – 11:00 am by Brad Gagnon
Peyton Manning has finally had a chance to breathe. And now that his rockstar-esque free agency tour is over and he’s had over a week to get acclimated to his new home and his new employer, Manning is finally ready to talk about what had to be the wildest month of his life. And it’s only fair that, from a sports radio standpoint, the guys in Denver got first dibs.
Peyton Manning joined KKFN in Denver to talk about the crazy process he went through the last three weeks, what went through his mind both when he left the Colts and decided on the Broncos, and his goals moving forward. He also clarified that he wasn’t avoiding NFC teams in order to prevent having to face his brother and spoke about coming to a city with a heavy pro sports presence — one that includes good friend and former Tennessee Volunteer teammate Todd Helton.
On moving to a city with four major sports teams and, for the first time in his life, one with a major league baseball franchise:
“Of course, in Indianapolis I’m still good friends with Reggie Miller and I’ve always enjoyed watching the Pacers play. But baseball has probably always been my second favorite sport besides football. And between New Orleans and Knoxville and Indianapolis, we had minor league teams, just never had major league teams. And of course I’ve always followed the Rockies because of Todd (Helton), and I was here for a week last summer, worked out with the Rockies during the lockout. So I’m excited for opening day and I’ll be down there for a lot of games, I guarantee it.”
On if he was in contact with Helton regarding a place to stay in Denver:
“Sure, Todd’s been a great host and when I was here for that week, he took great care of me, helping me out during the lockout. And he’s reached out saying anything that I need he’ll be able to help with. So I appreciate that and it certainly has been nice having people here in the city that I know like Todd and Brandon Stokley and John Lynch. But I’m not staying at Todd’s house. Nobody’s there right now because the whole family’s in spring training. I’ve pretty much just been sleeping over here at the complex the past week and a half, trying to study this playbook and trying to get on the same page as some of these receivers.
On how crazy this experience has been for him:
“Well it certainly was. It wasn’t really how I would’ve liked it. It became so public. And that was the Broncos’ idea — sending the cars different areas — that wasn’t mine. But once you kind of got inside the facilities I really enjoyed getting to know the football people at the different teams. I tell ya, the NFL is in good shape right now. There’s some really smart people, some great coaches, some great management people out there. And I really just met a bunch of them. And so certainly that’s the case here in Denver. So I enjoyed the football part of it, I didn’t enjoy — obviously — all the cameras following me everywhere that you went. But that’s certainly just kind of part of it. But I’m glad to be with the team, to be into a normal routine lifting weights over here, throwing with the receivers. That makes me feel more comfortable and I’m glad to be in that routine.”
On what went through his mind the moment he finally decided on Denver:
“Well…I really felt like I had some good options. And certain teams were kind of on the clock and kind of had to have an answer right away due to personnel on their respective teams, and I just couldn’t rush a decision if I just didn’t feel right about it. And once it kind of came down to it and I realized that I wanted to kind of get going and didn’t wanna draw this out any longer than I had to — I had to feel good about something — but really the teams that it kinda came down to, I liked them all and I really felt that I had three good options and I probably couldn’t make a bad choice. So really, it kinda came down to just feeling comfortable and really kinda making it the right decision after you make it. To me, it’s not something that you know right away, ‘Hey, this is the absolute right decision.’ It’s up to me to go to work and do everything I can to be the best player I can be and try to be the best player I can be to help Denver. But I did kind of go through a thorough evaluation of each team and the personnel. I was in constant communication with John (Elway) and Coach Fox and they were very honest and upfront in their answers with me about the future of the team, which I appreciated. And I just woke up and called John and said I want to be a Bronco, and here I am. So I’m certainly excited to be here.”
On coming to the realization that he was never going to play for the Colts again:
“I really didn’t know for sure until probably the day before the press conference. That was a tough time. Obviously, just a guy that loved everything about playing for the Indianapolis Colts. And it’s really kinda the only team that I knew — the only team I worked out for coming out of college and only team I visited coming out for the draft. But like I said, I’m excited to be playing again. Last year, sitting out, not playing, being injured — that was certainly difficult. So I’m excited to be playing and I’m glad to be in the AFC as well, kind of a conference that I’m familiar with. And looking forward to playing here in Denver.
On how much his brother playing in the NFC factored into his decision:
“Well, that’s not true, because obviously when I was talking to San Francisco, they asked me that. And I wouldn’t have told them that I could possibly be interested if that were the case. Obviously I know that San Francisco is in the NFC. Just like everybody thinks that the Titans (didn’t get chosen) because they were in the Colts’ division. Once again, I knew that the Titans were in the AFC South. And so when Coach Munchak called and I said, ‘Sure, I absolutely would have an interest and I’d love to get to know everybody better.’ So the psychoanalyzing — I guess that’s the word, I’m not sure I know what that means — but there’s a lot of teams that I liked. And believe me, part of me wanted to be able to go to all of them for a short period of time. But you have to pick one, and once you pick it you don’t look back. So I’m here in Denver and looking forward to going ahead.”
On if he’s thought about what’ll be going through his head on opening day in September:
“I have not…it seems like a long way away at this point. I know there’s a lot of work to do between now and then. And I have some work to do physically, certainly mentally — learning this offense and trying to get on the same page with some of these receivers. I’ve enjoyed throwing this past week and a half with guys like Eric Decker and Julius Thomas, been taking some snaps from J.D. Walton. So I’ve kind of tried to hit the ground running and try to use all this time that we have. But I know the schedule will be coming out I think pretty soon here, and see who will have on opening day and that’ll be the goal all offseason — to try to win that first game. So it’ll be exciting but I certainly have some work to do before then.”
On the attention he’s received as a spokesman in the commercial world:
“I haven’t really thought about that, to tell you the truth. I’ve enjoyed being in the NFL. The best part of it is the football. It’s a relationship business … that was the toughest thing about not being in Indianapolis is the equipment guys and the trainers and the support staff there that you get to know so well, and all the teammates — guys like Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne. You wanna be able to play with those guys forever. So that’s been the most enjoyable part. I look forward to kind of forming some new relationships here in Denver with the players here. Obviously I know some of them. I know Champ Bailey, having played against him in college. Looking forward to getting to know the rest of the guys.”
On his goals going forward:
“I feel I have an obligation to my teammates, to the coaches, to management, to the owner, Mr. Bowlen, for bringing me here, to go out and be the best quarterback I can be to help them win. I have a job to do and they’ve made a commitment to me. And so I’m committed to doing everything I can to help them. That’s what I’ve always tried to do and, like I said, I have work to do, and that’s why I’m here and haven’t left here since I signed last Tuesday. And plan on being here all offseason, trying to get ready to play and get ready to win some games this year.”
On the craziness of the last two weeks:
“I’d say this whole year has been different, there’s no question about it. That’s part of life. It’s kind of calming down, though, now that the kind of free agency tour is over. So I’m much more comfortable kind of being back in this routine and kind of doing things that I kind of know, little bit more familiar with. The free agency thing was hard because it was just so new to me. I’d never been a free agent before, so I’m glad I wasn’t one for very long and hope I’m not one ever again.”