Eight days ago, the 13-day Peyton chase came to an end. Now, Peter King of Sports Illustrated pieces the process together in a thorough and entertaining new article.
It deserves a complete read, since it confirms many of the things that were known or apparent as the events unfolded.
For example, Tony Dungy said on PFT Live that he’d tell Peyton to look for the place that provides the most familiarity and comfort. Dungy reiterated his advice the night before Peyton made his decision to go to Denver. “I told him it’s never going to be 100 percent,” Dungy told King. “He had so many good choices, it’s going to be 51-49, or maybe 50-50, and then it just comes down to a gut feeling. I told him what [Hall of Fame coach] Chuck Noll told me a long time ago: When you’re making an important life decision, make sure it’s without regard to money, title or position. Make sure it’s about who you’re going to be working with and how much you’ll enjoy being there.”
And while King mentions a couple of times that the move wasn’t about the money, we’d hate to see how much money Manning would have gotten if it were about money. He’s getting $18 million guaranteed in 2012, and if he’s on the roster as of the final day of the 2012 league year (presumably in March 2013), the Broncos end up on the hook for $40 million guaranteed over two years, with the ability to avoid $20 million in 2014 only if Manning suffers another neck injury in 2013.
As to some of the details, Manning’s reaction to the news that the Redskins had traded up in the draft, presumably to get Robert Griffin III, confirmed our report that a report that Manning had told the Redskins they were out of the running wasn’t accurate. Also, and as Adam Schefter reported at the time to the disbelief of Dolphins fans, Manning was (as King put it) “annoyed to be chased by local news crews and a helicopter as if he were O.J. riding up the 405″ when Manning returned to his house in Miami after being released by the Colts.
In the end, that special connection between a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks helped get the deal done, in large part because Broncos V.P. of football operations John Elway was able to sympathize (or maybe it’s empathize . . . I always screw that one up) with Manning’s situation. “I put myself in Peyton’s shoes,” Elway told King. “No pressure. Don’t give the hard sell. Let the organization speak for itself. I told him that as much as I wanted him to play for the Broncos, I knew it would be stupid if we forced him and it wasn’t a good fit. That’s how I’d feel.”
Getting to the point where it was a good fit included Manning asking defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy whether they are “one and done”; in other words, are they going to parlay a successful season under Peyton into a head-coaching job? Del Rio said no, and McCoy said he’d leave only for the right job. (Then again, McCoy won’t get much of the credit for anything Peyton achieves this season.)
I could keep going, but then you may think you don’t need to read King’s article. I think you do. So I’ll do something that many of you would like me to do permanently, and shut up.