John Elway believed Peyton Manning wanted to play for Washington more than Denver

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When the Browns nearly traded for Jim Harbaugh, the football world narrowly missed out on a twice-per-year battle of brothers who had met in the Super Bowl in early 2013. In early 2012, the football world nearly got two Manning bowls per year.

An excellent and detailed oral history of the free-agency pursuit of Peyton Manning from TheAthletic.com suggests that Manning actually preferred Washington to Denver. The trade, however, that positioned the team to select quarterback Robert Griffin III ended that.

“I went over to Mike Shanahan’s house and visited with Mike and Kyle Shanahan, and we sat in their den and watched film,” Manning said. “Kyle went over their offense. I was really impressed with Kyle.”

They proceeded with the meeting even though the trade had already been done.

“I think Peyton was disappointed,” former Washington coach Mike Shanahan said regarding the trade that ultimately gave Washington the ability to select Griffin. “Kyle and I were kind of surprised that he still wanted to meet with us. I can remember talking with [Broncos G.M. John] Elway one time not too long ago, a few years ago. He said, ‘Mike, do you realize that Peyton, I think, was going to go to your place? I think he really wanted to go to your place more than our place.’ I said, ‘Really? I didn’t know that.’ And that came from John. I knew we were fairly close.”

And so the final four years of Peyton’s career would have included two battles per year with Eli and the Giants.

The article contains plenty more intriguing stories and nuggets, including the tale of Harbaugh, then the 49ers head coach, asking the wife of Duke coach David Cutliffe for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Harbaugh presumably consumed it with milk. A lot of milk.