On Wednesday, Broncos legend Peyton Manning joined Dave Logan on KOA Radio and Brandon Stokley on 104.3 The Fan for wide-ranging discussions that included encouraging fans to help during the COVID-19 crisis, his thoughts on what he would look for in wide receiver prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft and more.
These are just a few of the interesting things Manning talked about, so be sure to check out each interview if you're interested in hearing more from the two-time Super Bowl champion.
1. How he's trying to help those affected by COVID-19
Manning has been active during the initial waves of the spread of the novel coronavirus in his outreach to people in the Denver community, including donating blood and sending food to health-care workers.
"It's certainly been an adjustment like it has been for everybody," Manning said during his conversation on The Fan. "I think during these times instead of thinking about yourself, you're thinking about others. You think about others and maybe a way you can help out. There's a lot of people hurting during this time — here in Colorado, down in Louisiana in our home state. New Orleans especially is going through a tough time. So you think about others and others' safety and how you might be able to help, whether it's helping feed some frontline workers or raising money for a cause."
Manning is also taking part in the All In Challenge, which is a collection of more than 180 sweepstakes and auctions hosted by Fanatics to promote COVID-19 relief efforts. Manning's contribution, a golf outing and dinner with Manning in the winner's hometown, has a current bid of $500,000.
But he emphasized even if you can't donate, say, half a million dollars, the sweepstakes provide the opportunity for many people to donate even just $10 for a chance to win incredible experiences or prizes for a good cause.
"Anybody can participate," Manning said. "You can buy a raffle ticket for five or 10 bucks and you might be in a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio or, for me, I have an auction to golf with me and your friends in your hometown and have dinner with some more of your friends at a local restaurant in your hometown. That's more of an auction, but anybody can contribute on different levels, raising money to help food programs, helping kids who need to eat, helping people who are out of work and need to eat. That's kind of what I've tried to do, spending my time thinking of others and obviously keeping our family safe."
2. What to look for in a wide receiver prospect
Asked about the Broncos' need for a wide receiver in the upcoming NFL Draft, Manning noted one specific prospect — "I've watched [Jerry Jeudy] torch my Tennessee Vols the past few years; I know what an exciting player he was," he said — but more broadly discussed that the biggest thing to him as a quarterback was the player's mindset.
"I think [in] a wide receiver, you're looking for a guy who loves football, number one, truly loves football — loves the work, loves to work on his route-running, practices hard, can keep himself healthy," Manning told Stokley and hi cohost Zach Bye. "The best wide receivers I played with — guys like you, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne — you guys were always out there practicing every day. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker … [they were] out there every day, practice every day. If you practice every day, that's how you get your timing down and that's how you become productive on the field on Sundays.
"I think you're looking for a durable guy that obviously catches the ball well and can make some explosive plays."
And even if the Broncos don't draft a receiver in the first round or even an offensive player, he said you have confidence in the team's leadership.
"I certainly never hated when we drafted offensive players, I have to admit," Manning said. "We drafted Edgerrin James; that was exciting to me in my second year. When you draft a tight end, like we drafted Dallas Clark, that was exciting. At the same time, you've got to trust the personnel department to try to fill the needs. And if we needed a linebacker and the team got a linebacker, I was all for it."
3. 'You can actually come out of this … a better player'
The only situation in NFL history that probably remotely relates to the challenges players are facing because of the COVID-19 outbreak is that of the 2011 lockout when players weren't allowed to practice at NFL facilities.
"In 2011, we had the NFL lockout where you truly weren't allowed to go into the facility," Manning said on The Fan. "… But in advance of that, knowing the lockout was coming, I got a bunch of footballs, got some practice jerseys, got some old scripts, got some cards to draw some blitzes and sort of organized our own practices. We were meeting over at a high school, throwing routes, coming together and doing blitzes and doing walkthroughs and kind of having a semblance of a practice. I really felt like the team that can kind of get an edge or an advantage during this time has a real chance to come out ahead on this thing."
This situation where a contagious disease means you can't even do those kind of things of course changes what those opportunities might be, but Manning emphasized that you have to still search for novel ways to stay involved and engaged.
"Obviously going within the rules of what you're allowed to do — virtual meetings and obviously there's certain restrictions," Manning said, "but I think it's an opportunity to be creative, to kind of take some ownership as players to sort of lead these meetings and workouts. …
"That's kind of my encouragement to players: Instead of kind of complaining about it, study some film from last year — even extra film. Study a specific fundamentals and techniques that you can improve on. I think you can actually come out of this whole deal a better player because you had more time to study yourself."
That said, Manning also was clear that there is a limit to comparing the two situations.
"There's nothing that I've been through that can relate to this," Manning said. "There's nothing anybody's went through that relates to this."
4. 'I don't think Tom needs any advice from me'
In some ways, Tom Brady's decision to move on from his longtime NFL home is similar to Manning's. Though the former Colts QB did so because of injury, both changed teams after many years with the only other team for which they had played.
Manning said he didn't need to give Brady any advice in his transition to becoming a Buccaneer, but he did have some insight on what he's seen from Tom so far in his outlook and the coaching staff that Tampa Bay has.
"I can tell the way Tom is talking, how excited he is," Manning said on The Fan. "And certainly I'm very familiar with the coaches that he's playing for: Bruce Arians was my quarterbacks coach my first few years in the NFL. … Clyde Christensen … was my receivers coach and offensive coordinator for a couple [years] in Indianapolis; he's down there. Tom Moore, my old coordinator, he's down there. So Tom's going to get coached by some great coaches down there. I know they're excited.
"To me it's going to be an exciting year of football when it returns. How many games we're going to get, who knows, but everyone knows how hard a worker Tom is and there's no doubt he's going to help create a winning culture there in Tampa that the rest of the players feed off of."
5. What's next for the Sheriff?
What will Manning do next? Even he doesn't know for sure, but there was only one thing he would rule out: professional coaching at the college or NFL level.
"One thing, I guess, that I just don't think that I'll probably get into is coaching, if you will, in the NFL," Manning told Logan on KOA Radio. "Or, people say, 'Why don't you go back and coach in college' or whatnot. The truth of it is I'm not sure I would be as good of a coach as people think. Being a coach takes a certain skill, and just because you were a successful football player doesn't mean you'll be a good coach. I like teaching. I like teaching football. I like teaching young quarterbacks, answering questions, paying it forward. So maybe eliminate that."
Well, he did give one exception: coaching his children on their sports teams.
"As soon as flag football opens up, I am coaching Marshall's flag football team," he said. "We are the Titans next year. I'm excited for sports to open back up at the right time when it's safe. So, I think maybe little league and Pop Warner and being an assistant on Mosley's softball team and Marshall's baseball team, I enjoy that. But once again, I kind of see it more as teaching. Some of the things that I've learned along the way from my high school coach, from my college and pro coaches, I certainly do believe in paying it forward.
"But in the meantime I find myself kind of still breezy and stimulated doing a number of different things but having some time to do some different things I haven't had a chance to do and certainly being around our family and kids is priority number one."