Retired Broncos great Peyton Manning (and his children, Marshall and Mosley) visited Wednesday's Broncos practice to greet former teammates and meet the new Broncos. (photos by Gabriel Christus)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** When the Broncos arrived at UCHealth Training Center Wednesday morning, they were greeted with a new locker-room trophy case, which contained the franchise's three Lombardi Trophies. Later, as their practice came to a close, they were surprised with a visit from one of the legends who helped secure the third.
"Seeing Peyton, I guarantee you, 63 of us out there, it was 63 smiles," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "We know what he brings and what he brought to this organization. Just having his presence there, it's an uplifting feeling."
Manning didn't talk shop with players during his time on the field — he had far too many former teammates and new Broncos to catch up with — but Trevor Siemian did give Manning an offer to join them for practice.
"Me and Austin [Davis] were running and I told him, 'I know you got some shorts on under there, come join us!' But he wasn't having it," Siemian joked.
In khakis and a button-down shirt, Manning may have had to decline Siemian's offer, but he took time to reach out to former teammates and new Broncos alike.
For rookies who were not around for his tenure as a Bronco, meeting Manning was a stunning moment.
"It was awesome," safety Will Parks said. "I was just telling somebody how good of a guy he is, and not just how good of a guy — I mean, Peyton is one word. Awesome. It's awesome."
But having been around Manning didn't necessarily change players' reactions, even for the veterans.
"Yeah, they probably [were] starstruck," Talib said. "I still get starstruck myself. I ain't gonna lie. But it was good for them ... to see the culture around here, see the guys, some vets — some legends — around here. Guys kind of feed off that kind of stuff."
That kind of energy comes at a good time as the Broncos prepare for the final stretch of the season. Manning's visit can serve as a reminder of what kind of player they should strive to be at such a crucial point in the season.
Asked about that idea, Talib replied, "Exactly. Like I said, his presence around, I don't know if [Head Coach Gary Kubiak is] gonna have him talk to us or whatever, but I'm sure if Peyton gave us a speech, it'd really center guys and let guys focus up on this stretch run."