When Peyton Manning wanted to be pulled from a blowout, Bruce Arians refused

Getty Images

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knows how to coach quarterbacks. He wrote the book on it. Literally.

The Quarterback Whisperer, officially released next Tuesday, has plenty of interesting stories from Arians’ lifetime in football, as both a quarterback and a coach of quarterbacks.

Here’s one that justifies a blurb of its own. Arians, serving as the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis early in Peyton Manning’s career, showed a willingness few have to be blunt and candid with Peyton.

During a 1998 game against the Patriots, in only the second start of Manning’s career, the Colts trailed badly. “Midway through the fourth quarter of the game, with the outcome already decided, Peyton was so frustrated that he asked for mercy,” Arians writes. “He wanted to be pulled from the game.”

Arians refused, in a colorful way.

‘”F–k no, get back in there,’ I told him,” Arians explains. “‘We’ll go no-huddle and maybe you’ll learn something. You can never ask to come out. You’re our leader. Act like it.'”`

Arians then describes what happened next as a “sight to behold,” with Manning leading a late drive that ended in a touchdown pass. Arians saw the drive give Manning a “shot of confidence.”

The next year, as Manning tried to break an 0-3 streak against the pre-Belichick Patriots (in those days, the Colts and Patriots were both in the AFC East), Arians noticed before the game that Manning “had a frowning, contorted face” and that “he looked like he really needed to go to the bathroom.” Arians continued to sense that Manning was uptight about facing New England again, so Arians said to him, “‘Peyton, your footwork is all messed up. . . . What’s wrong with you, man?'”

Arians says that Manning’s footwork actually was fine, but in the process of focusing on working on his footwork after Arians called him out, Manning’s anxiety disappeared. The Colts won the game. Arians calls that moment before the game as a “turning point” in their relationship, one in which Arians pushed the right “psychological button.”

And that’s what so much of the book is about — the psychology both of being a quarterback and of coaching one. It’s already a worthwhile effort to read, and I’m only at page 26.

36 responses to “When Peyton Manning wanted to be pulled from a blowout, Bruce Arians refused

  1. He does realize that in the process of making himself look good he’s painting Peyton as a yellow coward….well maybe the truth hurts….

  2. I would probably think that was a more interesting story if I didn’t believe that Bruce Arians is probably just trying to take all the credit for Peyton Manning’s career and natural talent. Bruce loves him some Bruce…

  3. packfaninpackland says:
    I’m a lifelong Packers fan, but you gotta love Arians.

    I’m also a lifelong Packers fan – quite probably since before you were born — and I think Bruce Arians is an arrogant clown who will never win anything as a head coach.

  4. Makes sense. I have never seen an “elite” QB quit like Manning quit in SB 48 against the Seahawks. Quitter.

  5. jvw1982 says:
    Jul 6, 2017 6:47 PM
    He does realize that in the process of making himself look good he’s painting Peyton as a yellow coward….well maybe the truth hurts….

    No, he is not. He is painting a near rookie QB as someone who needed to learn a lesson about leadership. How many downs you play in the NFL? You seem to know so much about leadership on the field.

  6. Some information must be incorrect here, I was trying to look up the game mentioned, but in 1999 the first Colts vs Pats game actually had manning going up 28-7 and blowing the lead and losing to bledsoe 31-28. Then they won 20-15 in the second game. No garbage time touchdown there?

  7. Checking 1999 Colts games, they we actually ahead vs. the Patriots 28-14 going into the 4th quarter until the Pats scored 17 in the 4th to win 31-24. There was no blowout. Not then, or in the 2nd game that year or in 1998 (Manning’s rookie year).
    It doesn’t look good when a writer can’t get the story right over something fans can easily check. So if there was never a blow-out, why did Manning ask out of the game? Maybe he never did ask out.

  8. remembertheagenda says:
    Jul 6, 2017 7:08 PM
    Even as a lifelong Colts fan, I cant figure out why anyone liked that Peyton guy.

    He always seemed like a pillow soft, entitled, rich little punk to me.

    ————————————–

    If you were a lifelong colts fan and didn’t like having one of the best QBs of all time on your team, you probably didn’t understand the game.

  9. BA has a shot to prove he’s a QB whisperer in fixing Blaine Gabbert after Palmer hangs em up.

  10. The best QB of all time plays for the current Super Bowl champs! Unlike Manning Tom isn’t a quitter. Remember 28-3, he didn’t give up, unlike Manning against Seattle in the Super Bowl, 43-8.

  11. Manning obviously does not have the innate competitive spirit and drive that many other QBs have.

    Champions don’t quit on their team.

  12. Until Manning, or someone else on the Colts at that time, confirms this actually happened the way Arians said it did, it should be taken with a grain of salt. After all the Colts got beat in 1999 by a score of 29-6 and Manning did lead a late TD drive, but the Colts lost the rematch, so Arians’ story is a little off. Now, in 1998 the Colts did win the second game the teams played after losing the first game, but the first game was a very close 31-28 Colts loss, so doubtful Manning asked out of that game.

  13. rje49 says:
    Jul 6, 2017 7:25 PM
    Checking 1999 Colts games, they we actually ahead vs. the Patriots 28-14 going into the 4th quarter until the Pats scored 17 in the 4th to win 31-24. There was no blowout. Not then, or in the 2nd game that year or in 1998 (Manning’s rookie year). It doesn’t look good when a writer can’t get the story right over something fans can easily check. So if there was never a blow-out, why did Manning ask out of the game? Maybe he never did ask out.
    ___________________

    The year in the article is wrong but so are you about ’98. 09/13/98 it was 29-0 in the 4th quarter. It doesn’t look good when you make stuff up about something other fans can easily check. Since there was a blowout maybe he did ask out? You can be sure if he never did we would have already heard about the inaccuracy. Manning is very careful about his image, he even threw his wife under the bus to protect it.

  14. “SB against Seattle … Fumbles that snap early on and you could see then on his face that he was done.”

    You mean the ball that was snapped over his head? That fumble?

  15. wordsmith513 says:
    Jul 7, 2017 6:41 AM
    If Arians is so good at developing QBs, maybe he could develop one for the Cardinals.

    ———————
    Coaching Manning isnt a bad thing to have but still it being Manning means you can only take so much credit for thevsuccess. But if he turns Gabbert into a winner credit and kudos will be much warranted.

  16. Sounds like creative misremembering.

    1998 Week 2 – Colts lose 29-6 to New England
    This would appear to be the blowout where Manning got a TD in the 4th (the 2 point attempt failed).

    1998 Week 9 – Colts lose 21-16 to New England
    If this is the “rematch later that year”, he obviously lied.

    1999 Week 2 – Colts lose 31-28 to New England
    Not a blowout.

    1999 Week 14 – Colts win 20-15 vs New England
    This *might* be the “footwork” game, but if so, he seems to have managed to forget the 2 games in between it and the “blowout”.

    Looks like ol’ Fat Brucey lied again. It’s always nice when you can rearrange the story to your own benefit, though…I know this website where they do that all the time…

  17. Unless Florio posted an update, I’m not sure what people are complaining about here from Arian’s recollection.

    Start of the 4th paragraph:
    During a 1998 game against the Patriots, in only the second start of Manning’s career, the Colts trailed badly.
    1998 Week 2 – NE 29 IND 6
    True, scored late, missed 2-pt

    Start of the 8th paragraph:
    The next year, as Manning tried to break an 0-3 streak against the pre-Belichick Patriots (in those days, the Colts and Patriots were both in the AFC East)
    1999 Week 14 – IND 20 NE 15
    True, 1999 is the year after 1998. It didn’t say his next game. Manning was 0-3 against NE until he won that game.

  18. “lenthevikesfan says:
    Jul 6, 2017 6:40 PM
    Yes… a garbage time TD pass against the Pats 3rd team D was quite a sight to behold.”

    A garbage time TD pass by somebody who was playing in his second NFL start. A TD is a TD, and experience is experience. There’s still something to be learned from that, like how to endure and stay focused when the odds are down, etc.

  19. You ever want to see a tantrum on the sidelines you just try to pull Tom Brady from a game and regardless what the score is. One of the reasons Garrapolo has so little game experience is because even when the Patriots are up big and it makes sense to protect him while giving the backup some snaps Brady still argues his way back out there.

  20. you just try to pull Tom Brady from a game and regardless what the score is.
    ———————–
    Everyone who ever played with or against Brady describes him as THE ultimate competitor and it was all on display on the biggest stages in SBs 49 and 51.

    QBs like Rogers, Brees, Montana never did what Brady did, and maybe they could or couldn’t, we’ll never know. But none of those three would have ever flat out quit like Manning did repeatedly in playoff losses. Pathetic

Leave a Reply