When Alabama coach Nick Saban revealed that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase had visited the Crimson Tide, it raised eyebrows as a potential violation of the NFL rules preventing players and coaches from meeting before the start of the offseason program. But now Saban says Manning and Gase didn’t meet together.
“I am surprised to hear that anyone thought that what they were doing was in any way wrong. That’s what people get for assuming,” Saban told the Denver Post. “We did not talk Broncos football at all, other than Peyton asking questions about how he could get better as a player.”
Asked if Manning and Gase were in a meeting at the same time, Saban said, “Only to say hello.”
Gase got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant for Saban at LSU, and Saban characterized their meeting as personal, not professional.
“I only talked to Adam about his family. He talked to our assistant coaches,” Saban said.
The Denver Post story suggests that it’s not an issue because “Manning’s idea of vacation is talking football,” and so Manning won’t complain about it. But the rule doesn’t only exist to protect players from being forced by their coaches to do extra offseason work. It also exists to provide a level playing field for all 32 NFL teams. If Manning and Gase are permitted to travel together to study defenses during what’s supposed to be the players’ time off, they’re getting an unfair advantage over the teams that strictly obey the rules prohibiting any coaching from taking place at this point in the offseason.
Saban says that’s not how it happened. Saban is saying exactly what he needs to say to clear Manning and Gase of any wrongdoing, but the NFL has said it will look into the matter.