Manning, Gase “visit” to Saban may have violated offseason rules


The meeting between former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning and current Alabama coach Nick Saban will raise plenty of eyebrows among Volunteers fans who voluntarily wear on Saturdays in the fall an objectively unattractive shade of orange.

The session also should raise some eyebrows at 345 Park Avenue, for entirely different reasons.

As Saban explained it, Manning was accompanied by offensive coordinator Adam Gase.  Saban also said that Manning and Gase were “making some visits.”

“To be honest with you, [Manning] was just trying to learn so he could be a better player,” Saban said.  “I think a lot of people would say, ‘Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, and certainly from a career standpoint probably about as good as anybody’s been in the history of the league.  After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he’s going out and trying to seek more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better.”

That’s admirable.  It’s also a potential CBA violation.

The new labor deal, struck in 2011, places clear limits on offseason activities.  Under Article 21, Section 2(a)(ii), players “are not permitted to participate in . . . group or individual meetings with coaches” prior to the start of the team’s official offseason workout program.

The Broncos have yet to start their official offseason program.  Gase and Manning aren’t allowed to meet.  Either Saban is lying (because “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach“), it looks like they met.

Per a league source, Saban’s characterization of Manning and Gase making arm-in-arm visits to college coaches could be incorrect.  The Manning-Gase-Saban meeting at Alabama may have happened by chance, with Manning coming in to meet Saban and Gase, who once worked for Saban, happening to be in the area at the same time.

Regardless, it appears there was a meeting between player and coach before the start of Denver’s offseason program.

The Broncos declined comment on the issue.  The NFL has not yet responded to an email message seeking confirmation that the rules prohibit meetings between players and coaches prior to the start of the team’s offseason program.

Then again, confirmation likely isn’t necessary.  The rule is clear.  In the three years since the rule was created, it’s the first time evidence has arisen of a potential violation.

UPDATE 11:27 a.m. ET:  NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT that the league is looking into the situation.

94 responses to “Manning, Gase “visit” to Saban may have violated offseason rules

  1. Justice should be swift and harsh – Next months 1st round draft choice should be taken away!

  2. Or could be that it wasn’t a team meeting but a friendly one and therefore not a meeting. Lets face it the rule is there so players aren’t forced into such meetings. Pretty Peyton could have declined if he wanted to.

  3. Is there a reason why the player and coach from the same team can’t meet? It seems silly but must have had some reason behind it.

    Don’t players workout at team facilities in the offseason? Surely, they would talk at some point, right?

  4. It’s Peyton Manning. He got credited with a forward pass on a pass that was clearly backwards in order to give him the yardage record. The league will look the other way on this incident as well.

  5. It is admirable that Manning continues to strive for improvement. I don’t think he needs to change anything physically…but it would probably be a good idea to practice with very loud crowd noise. If they had been prepared for that in the super bowl, they might have had a chance. Not saying they would have won, but Seattle definitely could tell Manning was rattled and they fed off of it.

  6. I’m pretty sure that since this is a collective bargaining agreement between NFL players and the NFL, that “coaches” refers to NFL coaches. If not, then the players cannot be permitted to attend their children’s games–baseball, football, soccer, basketball, or gymnastics–just on the off chance they talk to their son or daughter’s coach. This is ridiculous.

  7. I’m pretty sure the rule in the BPA was created to restrict ‘voluntary’ offseason work outs which had become in effect, mandatory, by some teams …
    It was not intended to make players avoid coaches like the plague, nor to preclude players from pursuing ways to gain knowledge and sight of their craft.

    Just another instance of a poorly crafted NFL rule that needs to be clarified, but the spirit of the rule was not violated.

  8. It’s a stupid rule. Every player and every coach should be allowed to meet any time they damn well please. I’m all for rules about playing time and practice time, but seriously, why the hell shouldn’t a player and a coach be allowed to meet and talk about football concepts. There is no good reason that should be against the rules. And no one with half a brain (or more) should consider that “cheating”.

  9. something like this will probably get them a big fine and cost the Bronco’s a slew of draft picks. But a player gets into an accident drunk driving and they get 4 games reduced to 2 games.

  10. It may seem like a stupid rule, but it’s there for a reason. If players and coaches are allowed to meet during the offseason – even if it’s totally voluntary, even if it’s the player’s idea – it creates a situation where all players could feel pressure to “volunteer” for such meetings, since the meetings could conceivably provide a competitive advantage. One meeting between one player and one coach is nothing. But, from the union’s perspective, it sets a precedent for players being expected to work outside the bounds of the CBA. Especially when it’s a high profile player like Manning.

  11. Its okay. Now, if it was the Patriots….then there would be total outrage and the lynch mobs would be out in full force.

  12. Ohhhhhhhhh, THAT rule? The one that applies to every player, especially Brees, Brady, and Rodgers, but not to Megahead because he’s annointed king of the NFL. He can cheat because he won’t have to pay the price.

  13. What’s next. The NFL tapping phones so coaches and players cannot talk to each other? I can just see TMZ now trailing football players to catch them talking to their coaches. Could be a whole new segment on NFL Network.

  14. The rule, like any rule, is intended to protect players. However, like any rule, it is subject to interpretation and implementation using some common sense. The problem with common sense is that it’s not too common.

    Enforcement of the rule should be left up to the “aggrieved” player. If Manning doesn’t feel this meeting abused or aggrieved him in some way, the point is moot.

    My kids went through something similar with high schools sports in Ohio. In California, they could play softball or soccer almost year round. When we moved to Ohio, the players could not meet with the softball coaches before Feb/March (or whatever) due to state high school rules. So, the team captain and the other players started workout programs on their own. That way they were ready for the “official” coaching of the sport.

  15. What a strange rule. Sounds dumb to me unless I’m understanding it wrong. Why would they not allow players to meet with coaches in the off season? Does this mean if let’s say Tom Brady had lunch with Bill Belichick during the off season it would be breaking the rules? If so it sounds pretty ridiculous and nit picky. And I don’t understand the purpose of it, if anyone else knows I’d be interested in knowing why this rule was implemented.

  16. So the Broncos were caught cheating the salary cap twice and won the Super Bowl each year, then they were the only team ever caught and fined for taping other teams practices, when Manning was in Indy, they cheated by pumping in fake crowd noise when other teams were trying to run their offense, now this?

  17. Do some of you morons even understand what the intent of the rule was?

    Or are you all just looking for a reason to bash Manning to give some spark of joy in your pathetic, miserable lives?

  18. HAVING A BBQ this weekend, the WHOLE WORLD is invited, other teams coachs,players,the commish, heck even my neighbors dog.but i have to apploigise i can’ invite MY COACHS

  19. It isn’t a terrible rule. If everyone abides by the rule then the players and coaches can take some time off from January to mid April without fear that they are losing ground to other teams.

  20. The NFL had better come down hard. This is pathetic and much more of a competitive advantage than having cameras in the wrong place. The NFL needs to take away the 31st overall pick.

  21. That is such a BS labor rule intended to protect players from being required (or unofficially required) to attend off-season meetings and such.

    If players want to meet coaches to scheme, I say let them. It’s not like Gase twisted his arm or threatens his play time, forcing Manning to meet.

  22. They should have a rule that if you get beaten and humiliated by 40 in the Super Bowl in front of 100 million people watching…it’s ok to start early.

  23. If teams could have more time with these guys it would help them become better player and more importantly better citizens. John Harbaugh just came out prior to the recent spat of arrests saying he wishes the coaches could talk to their players in the house training, they can’t only to say hi and family small talk. Payton is the greatest of all time and doesn’t need more guidance, it’s ingrained by now, hard to change. CBA needs to be changed so as too have ability to mentor in the off season.

  24. This reminds me of a couple years ago when the Steelers hired Todd Haley. Upon Haley’s arrival, Roethlisberger made it clear to the local media that Haley hadn’t reached out to him. That bit of info sent the local sports media into a dither. The media spent weeks fuming, How dare Haley snub the superstar quarterback!!
    Quite humorous.

  25. The NFL investigation of this should move every bit as quickly as the investigation of the Bucs leaking info about Freeman.

  26. The NFLPA/NFL hurt all of us with the new rules, as we have to watch crappy tackling, poor play execution, and potentially more injuries in offseason and training camp because they are trying to jam too much into too short a time frame.
    I say let the players decide how much they want to work with the team in the offseason. I can come into work on Saturdays and Sundays if I want, by my own choice, and coaches are on the clock year round, so why not let players and team staff members conduct meetings and informal sessions as much as they want? It only helps the game.

  27. If there weren’t so many jerk coaches, the rule would never have been in place. But, once coaches started making “voluntary” practices essentially mandatory, there had to be a limit or coaches would be allowed to pressure players into ever more practices and meetings above and beyond what is reasonable. Guys like Tom “Five minutes early is late” Coughlin can be blamed for the need for this rule.

  28. What is the definition of meeting in the context of the agreement? Does a teleconference count? What about a meeting to discuss the players future with the team? I would argue that this does not go against the intent of that section.

  29. I understand that sometimes unions can seem too powerful and intrusive with their collective bargaining agreements, hence, the term “big labour”. However, in the case of sports, one cannot have an undue advantage over others by extracting extra strategies from coaches on a volunteer basis. I am not a Peyton Manning fan and I agreed that he did wrong and should be reprimanded, but not too harshly. He probably does not have much more time in the NFL anyway. He is approaching retirment and soon be getting his Medicare card anyway.

  30. The rule is the rule. Appears that Manning and Gase broke that rule. If that is correct the league needs to penalize them both. Simple as that.

  31. What a stupid rule. The NFL is so egotistical that it makes me sick. It’s a business and a job, so they should be together to get better at their trade if they so wish on a voluntary basis. It’s time for the NFL to wise up and get their head out of the sand.

  32. This is an outrage! How dare he?! They should dock the entire Manning family a sixth round pick in their respective Fantasy Football leagues – no less!

  33. Manning: Nothing will be done to the golden boy
    Brees: He’d be kicked out the league permanently

  34. Hawks fan with no love of Manning other than his amazing throws but this seems like a made up controversy. Hard to see how what he’s doing is any worse than the trouble that guys like Kap are getting into during their down time. Or even how this is really and different than the fact that half the Hawks offense is in LA doing “unorganized” workouts.

  35. Typically I side with the NFLPA on most matters because the owners have a long history of screwing athletes. But when players are receiving millions of dollars a year for what they put on the field during 16 regular-season games, and if they’re lucky, a few playoff games, they should be eager to do what it takes to better themselves. If they don’t want to go the extra mile, fine. But they shouldn’t be penalized for meeting with their coordinators and taking a look at some college football programs during the off season. That is just nuts.

  36. I think I speak for the whole AFC west when I say I think a one year suspension for Peyton is in order here… lol

  37. He could spend the whole offseason with Gase. Unless he can teach him how not to choke in the big game he will still be a loser. Roethlisberger, Brady and his brother have more SB wins and Flacco and Russel Wilson have as many as the golden boy. After all these years seems the golden arm is a bit tarnished.

  38. Peyton Manning will never, absolutely NEVER, get in trouble with the NFL. Mark my words, there will be an excuse, uncertainties, etc, but Peyton is too good for the sport.

  39. Go ahead and hate all you losers! This is much ado about nothing. Keep whining about rules violations from the 90s. Whatever makes you feel better about losing to a team that has won over 300 games in the last 30 years. Yep, that’s over 10 per season. I’d be jealous too if I were in your shoes. Pathetic!

  40. This is making a mountain out of a molehill and nothing more. Teams can’t get their off season workouts started because Roger Goodell and the boys scheduled the draft during Mothers Day weekend which is stupid as hell. This is nothing but a lot of fluff and bull—-

  41. I’m a Raider fan. Which means I would love to see the ponies punished for anything they do. Having said that… this rule is beyond stupid. Nothing to see here…

  42. wow…. all the ado over this. You would have thought that a player had made a bomb threat while waiting in an airport security line….naaah, never happen.

  43. Wow look at all the whiny jerks on here. Peyton Manning is the epitome of class. Someone who is so philanthropic deserves support not derision! Funny thing is he gets all this crap for getting beat soundly in the Super Bowl from fans of teams that weren’t good enough to even sniff the Super Bowl!

  44. No wonder the on-field product is getting so crappy.
    They aren’t allowed to put in enough extra time to get much better.

  45. What a joke. The CBA was signed to protect lazy players and their offseasons. If a player like Manning wants to voluntarily meet with an outside coach in what could be a mutually beneficial arrangement then he should be able to. If he wants to bring his OC with him then he should be able to do that.

    Maybe the new CBA can get the players working all year round like normal folk. There might even be less crazy offseason arrests.

  46. So… Chris Snee can’t spend family time before the start of the Giants workout program, right? He could meet his father in law, Tom Coughlin…

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