NEW YORK - On Sunday, Peyton Manning will do battle against a former AFC East foe in Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll, then head coach of the New England Patriots, gave Manning his first road loss in a 29-6 rout during Manning’s rookie season in 1998 with the Indianapolis Colts.
After Carroll was fired from the Patriots, he took a job with the University of Southern California to become their head coach. During his tenure Carroll would lead the Trojans to become a national power in the college ranks, winning several national championships and three straight Rose Bowls.
But Manning and Carroll’s paths crossed again, this time on a June afternoon as Manning was in Los Angeles for another event but wanting to prepare for the upcoming season. Manning told the story during his Wednesday morning press conference in New Jersey.
"He (Carroll) actually did a pretty cool thing for me one time," recalled Manning. "I was in Los Angeles during the summer in June. I had some commitment there and I needed to throw, I needed to workout. So I called over to Southern Cal’s football offices, got a hold of Coach Carroll and asked if his receivers and quarterbacks were throwing that day. Could I come over and join the throwing session because I was getting ready for training camp."
So Carroll agreed and Manning headed to the USC practice fields. Manning assumed that he was just going to throw a couple of routes to a few USC receivers, but Carroll had different plans in mind.
"Coach Caroll had eight receivers, four tight ends and four running backs all stretched, lathered up and ready to go when I got there," Manning said. "I said, 'Alright, what routes do y'all want to run? One of the players said 'No, Coach Carroll said we’re going to throw whatever routes you want to run. This is going to be your workout.' That's about as good of a treatment that you’re going to get."
Manning continued to tell reporters that he didn't see Coach Carroll that day. One reason could be because college coaches are not permitted from overseeing any team-oriented practices during the summer.
The good gestures will be on hold this weekend, as the two men will meet once again on the gridiron with a Super Bowl title at stake.