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'I pull for all quarterbacks': Hall of Famer Peyton Manning believes Broncos' quarterback competition 'can be good for everybody'


DENVER — In Peyton Manning's eyes, the Broncos' impending quarterback competition can benefit all parties.

As the Broncos prepare for their first open practice of organized team activities, Manning believes Jarrett Stidham, Zach Wilson and Bo Nix should all be able to improve ahead of the season.

"[It] sounds like they've got great competition over there," Manning said before receiving the Mizel Institute's 2024 Enrichment Award on Wednesday. "That's always good. Makes everybody better. I think the quarterback position is in good shape, and I think [Head Coach] Sean [Payton]'s system is extremely quarterback friendly. I never played in it, but played against it and watched it and know the success that Drew Brees had and Tony Romo had. It's the kind of system that I'd like to play in. It's very quarterback friendly."

Manning said he believes healthy competition "can be good for everybody" as Denver approaches the 2024 campaign.

The Hall of Fame quarterback has built a relationship with Stidham and Nix through their participation in the Manning Passing Academy, and he's reached out to Wilson since he was traded to Denver. Manning said he played golf with Stidham recently, and he's remained in touch with Nix in recent years.

"[Nix] actually won the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award this year, which I won when I was in college," Manning said. "So I was there at the banquet and got a picture with Bo. I remember just talking to Bo when he was thinking about transferring [from Auburn to Oregon]. So we've kind of stayed in touch. I'm super happy for him to be here. I think it's a great fit for him, and I can tell how excited Sean is to have Bo here."

Asked what advice he would give the 12th-overall pick ahead of his rookie season, Manning said he believes there's no replacement for playing experience. Manning started all 16 games during his rookie season, which he said he believes propelled him to future success. While the Colts won three games and Manning set a rookie interception record that still stands, Manning responded in his second season by leading the Colts to a 13-3 record and earned a Pro Bowl bid.

"Look, I think experience is still your best teacher," Manning said. "There's lots of philosophies and debates on whether you sit a rookie or you play him right away. Obviously Patrick Mahomes sat for a year, and then he's been to an AFC Championship every year since. … If he would've played as a rookie, I still think he would've had the same success. I played as a rookie. It was not a fun year. It's well-documented how many interceptions that I threw. If any of these rookies wants to break my interception record, I'd be for it. I don't want Bo to break it, but I'd like to get that off my resume. You'd think with 17 games that they'd be able to do it. It's 28, it shouldn't be that hard. But anyway, I'm over it. Look, they're going to play the best quarterback.

"There's no question; I think any quarterback would tell you, you just learn more things than you do sitting on the sideline. Any quarterback will tell you that. So [we'll see] when that happens for Bo and these quarterbacks — obviously Sean will make that decision — but I do think experience is the best teacher. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I went 3-13 my rookie year and didn't play very well. We went 13-3 the next year. There's no way that would have happened had I not played and kind of gone through those struggles and thrown those interceptions and figured out 'Hey, OK, I can't do that anymore. Hey, these guys are faster.' You just sort of file it all away. Eli [Manning] played, I think, six games his rookie year, and he said what he learned in the six that he played was night and day to the 10 that he sat. We'll see how it all shakes out."

Manning also knows what it's like to join a new team, and he said an opportunity in Denver will be a "a great second chapter" for Wilson.

As he continues to follow the Broncos — Manning said his security fob still works at Centura Health Training Center and that he visits multiple times a week — he'll hope for the best for all three quarterbacks.

"I pull for all quarterbacks," Manning said. "I really do."

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