ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning refuses to use the "R" word. He's not retired. Busy is more like it. He travels, makes appearances, helps coach his kids, but never strays far from football, a sport that transformed him into a global icon. Dressed as if he had walked off the golf course, not the practice field, Manning addressed a variety of topics in a wide-ranging 17-minute interview with beat reporters, including Denver7.
Earlier this week, Manning golfed a pro-am round with Tiger Woods at the 44th Memorial Tournament. He then headed to the Wilson Sports factory in Ohio for a piece on how NFL footballs are made as part of a TV series he’s leading on the league’s 100th anniversary. If he’s not the most interesting man in the world, Manning remains one of the most active, bouncing from media platforms to events to his kids’ (twins Marshall and Mosley) games.
Here are some of the highlights from Manning’s interview conducted inside UCHealth Center after he observed practice, starting with “Are you going to work in the NFL, since you know, you have been rumored to take over as the Jets GM and Browns GM….?”
Peyton Manning on:
Whether he will work in the NFL
“I still stay connected. I can’t look into a glass and say what I am going to be wanting to do this year, next year or five years from now. I do know I want to stay close to it, connected to it. I do know I will go to a lot of games this year. I go to all the Broncos games and get into the locker room beforehand, and maybe talk to the visiting coach. If and when, maybe so. I guess if I say absolutely not, then you will say I changed my mind. I don’t have an answer for you. … I think it’s funny to be up for a lot of jobs, but I don’t really get to confirm or get asked about it. I like listening."
Did Jets coach Adam Gase reach out about GM job?
“He never did. I have spoken with Adam of course since he's been there, but I did not speak with him about that nor was I contacted by anyone. But as I've said before, I enjoy keeping up with of course (brother) Eli (Manning) but the players or coaches that I've played with, played for, not many players here that I've played with. I was meeting a lot of players here for the first time (Thursday).”
Why not take the Monday Night Football job?
“I talked to the Monday Night Football folks. I enjoyed talking to the them. I had great conversation. It wasn’t the right time this year. Maybe it will never be. I enjoy talking and listening. But I am pretty good, going back to my recruiting in high school, and then telling you pretty quickly that I am out or that I am in. I am not trying to lead anybody on. I think that college coaches that recruited me appreciated that. I think that’s all you can do is listen and who knows what it leads to down the road. I have been busy and stimulated and also protected a lot of free time. I will be at the Yankees and Smashers 8-year-old baseball and softball games (this week) with Marshall and Mosley. ... I am not coaching, I am a volunteer assistant.”
They let you coach kids after the famous Saturday Night Live United Way football skit?
“Certain parents are very hesitant. I kind of have to earn (their trust) as a volunteer assistant. It’s funny. It’s fun.”
On quarterback Joe Flacco, attempting a rebirth in Denver after an 11-year run in Baltimore. Manning pulled off the greatest second chapter ever when he joined the Broncos following his run with the Colts:
“Yeah, a little bit (I can relate). It's a fresh start. I think Joe handled it well last year, but he wanted to be out there and was a pro and tried to do the best he could for the team. But he had a chance to be in a new place and has a chance to be the starter and I know he'll probably be hungrier than he has been in a while to go out there.”
On Broncos coach Vic Fangio. Manning has known him since Fangio’s earliest days in New Orleans when Peyton’s dad Archie was on the team’s radio broadcast. Fangio also served as the Colts' defensive coordinator for three years during Manning’s time there.
“I used to go out there and work out with the Saints and I'd spend time at the facility so I'd see Vic some then. But I played against Vic my rookie year, not a great game. We were playing Carolina. It was the last game of the season — pretty miserable season, we were 3-13. I still hold that rookie record for interceptions. I don't remember how much time was left in the game, but I feel we might have still had a chance to get back in it. I was actually trying to throw the ball away and I didn't throw it high enough and Eric Davis intercepted it. It was just a fitting ending to a miserable season, and then Vic came to Indy. He was our defensive coordinator for three years with me under Jim Mora. And Vic, he's super competitive and he wanted to win every practice against the offense, you know. And in his first year we went from 3-13 to 13-3 and a lot of that had to do with Vic coming in and kind of solidifying the defense, and we played better on offense. But he tried to win every practice and they would have the upper hand a lot at practice. And he really could be irritating. I can't remember what I did. But it seems like they held a lot during one practice. We didn't have refs at practice back then but I was probably complaining that they were holding our receivers and Vic put a plate of wine and cheese in my locker. He didn't say it was him but I knew it was him. Only he had access to it. But it was really competitive every day in practice. And if you get a compliment from Vic Fangio, you've done something special, because he does not roll them out there very much.”
What do you think impressed GM John Elway about Vic Fangio to hire him as a first-time coach?
“I think Vic earned John’s respect and impressed him in that interview. I’d say he impressed him by being who he is. He probably wore that same gray sweatsuit that he had out there in practice. I think he owns a couple of ties and a couple of suits and he (is like), just get me into my coaching gear and headset and a whistle and let’s go. He hasn’t changed one bit since 1999 in Indianapolis. I think that’s what John saw: this guy’s a football coach, we need to get back to playing solid, fundamental football around here. That’s what wins games. That’s kind of been the core of what the Denver Broncos have been about and I think Vic will bring that Denver.
On the Broncos zigging while the league is zagging by hiring a defensive coach.
“I think coaches don’t like being labeled defensive coach, offensive coach. I think Vic’s a football coach. I think if Vic had to go be an offensive coordinator or a receivers coach, I think he could do it because he can coach football. But he happens to be one of the great defensive minds in the game, and I think he’ll be a great leader of the entire team not just one side of the ball.’’
On the Hall of Fame inductions of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and cornerback Champ Bailey, which Manning will attend:
“I played against Champ in college, played against Champ when was with the Redskins, played against him in Denver. And played with him here -- what an unbelievable career. … And then a huge reason that I came to Denver was I knew Mr. Bowlen was all about winning. And I knew that I was on the clock and wasn’t going to be able to play 12 more years. I knew the Broncos were about winnng and winning now. I am looking forward to being in Canton when they go in.”