Glendale, AZ -- Today, Peyton Manning was presented with the Bart Starr Award, which is given annually to the player who best exemplifies character and leadership on and off the field. After the award presentation, Manning answered a few questions from the media.
Although Woody Paige of the Denver Post recently reported that his "sources close to the team" claim that Manning will return to the Broncos for 2015, pending a physical, Manning himself has not confirmed any such thing.
In fact, today he was unequivocal in his stance that he is still mulling over the decision to return.
“No, I haven’t made a decision," Manning said. "I’m still trying to take some time to evaluate some things, to talk to some people. Obviously the Broncos have been quite busy hiring a staff, but I have had some dialogue with [Head] Coach [Gary] Kubiak and did have a chance to see him in person the other day. These NFL rules are a little different; you’re not allowed to talk football so it was a chance for he and I to really kind of get to know each other and I really enjoyed my visit with him. I look forward to continuing to talk to him. I still look forward to having a chance to sit down with [President & CEO] Joe Ellis and [Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager] John Elway. I’m not interested in making this a lingering thing; I’d like to make a decision soon. At the same time, both Coach and Joe and John have instructed me to take some time, so I’m kind of following their orders.”
A paradox. He doesn't want it to be a lingering thing and yet, Manning is supposedly following Joe Ellis and John Elway's instructions that he take some time. Regardless, I look at it as a positive sign that he has spent some time with Gary Kubiak.
There has been rampant speculation as to whether Manning would fit in to Kubiak's West Coast zone offense, where the quarterback is often called upon to bootleg, or roll-out. On whether he feels he'd be able to adjust to this new offense in Denver, Manning was positive.
“Yeah, I know that’s been a hot topic of discussion," he said. "Of course we didn’t get into that. If I choose to come back, I feel pretty comfortable aside maybe from Tubby Raymond’s Delaware Blue Hen Wing T offense, I feel pretty comfortable playing in any offense. I really do. So I don’t see that being really a factor.”
Always a little levity with the Sheriff at the podium. I can't help but agree with Manning. If Matt Schaub can twice go to the Pro Bowl and eclipse the 4,000-yard passing mark three times in Kubiak's system, I have no doubt that Manning could do even better.
People want to know what factors are holding Manning back from making his decision. Following the Denver Broncos disappointing loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, he mentioned that "certain coaches" will effect his decision.
Many interpreted that to mean, "If Adam Gase stays, I'll come back". But Gase is gone -- hired as the offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears and his ol' pal, John Fox. At 38-almost-39 years old, health is likely a primary factor in Manning's decision.
He struggled with a what was reported as a tear in his quad down the stretch and into the playoffs. And during that time, he simply did not look himself. No matter what the factors are in Manning's decision, he's keeping his cards close to the vest.
“I don’t know, I guess some of those things are personal," Manning said. "Some things I want to discuss with them—with Joe and with John and with Coach. There has been quite a lot of change since our last game, so I want to hear what they have to say and get their thoughts on some things and share some thoughts of my own with them and get their feedback. I have great respect for all three of those men. Obviously I don’t know Coach Kubiak as well as Joe and John, but I’m looking forward to conversations I’m allowed to have with him. It’s difficult to sit and talk to a football coach and not discuss football. We had dinner and you eat and you sit in silence for a little bit until you think about what you’re allowed to talk about (laughing). But I did enjoy getting to know him, a little bit about his family and his history and sharing a little bit of mine with him. I look forward to doing that again.”
Whatever happens, expect a decision from Manning sooner, rather than later. He's due his $19M guaranteed salary for 2015, if he's still on the roster come March 9th. He'll have to pass a physical first, which means that the time he's taking to decide, is likely tied to the recovery process of his banged up quad.