As I spilled the beans this morning on Twitter, and a little more cryptically yesterday evening, I stumbled across a little bit of luck. Thanks to some connections, some more indirect than others, I was invited to a private event – a client appreciation event, to be specific – at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Wednesday night.
Anything catered, anything with a bar (never mind I opted for a Diet Coke), and anything with a swanky fireplace located inside an even swankier lounge is my idea of a decent affair, especially when it requires I leave work early, and costs me nothing.
How does one make a decent affair a cool-points-through-the-roof affair?
Did I mention he was there? He was. Roger Staubach, too. A quick aside…it’s kind of interesting when a multi-Super Bowl winning, yellow Hall of Fame blazer-is-in-my-closet-at-home, quarterback is relegated to “also appearing” status. Staubach was, but remained poised, gracious, and a consummate good guy.
This client appreciation event was highlighted by an hour-long Q&A session with Manning and Staubach – moderated by 9News’ Susie Wargin.
Not at all surprising, the session focused largely on Manning, and also not at all surprising, served as yet another reminder of what I didn’t need reminding of: I like Peyton Manning. I mean, I really like Peyton Manning.
Imagine that. The Colts fan turned Broncos blogger is a Manning fan.
For the life of me, I cannot fathom how some dislike Manning. Football chops or rivalries aside (I’m looking at you, New England), this is a genuinely sincere, witty – actually downright funny – person.
The entire evening was chock-full of anecdotes and candid insight, and my recounting of events really serves it no justice, but nevertheless, here are some Manning highlights, straight from No. 18′s mouth:
- After spending 14 seasons in Indianapolis, Manning admits he’s not “completely comfortable” in Denver just yet. He compared his experiences thus far to his 1998 rookie season.
- And speaking of rookies, Manning still holds the NFL record for most interceptions thrown by a rookie quarterback. Manning jokingly (though I strongly suspect a tinge of seriousness) said he actively roots for his record to be broken. Sam Bradford let him down, as did Matthew Stafford. Peyton insists younger brother Eli would have broken the record in 2004, though “he only started ten games,” and well, you pretty much need to start an entire season for a chance at that dubious distinction.
- On the subject of late quarterback hits, something that wasn’t really called during Staubach’s time, Manning chimed in with what I believe begged to be interpreted as a subtle jab at Tom Brady. It turns out Manning doesn’t like quarterbacks who, right after taking a tumble, immediately look to the referee for a flag. (No, Manning didn’t use Brady by name, but let’s think about this: How many New England Patriots games have you seen where Brady doesn’t plead with the referee at least once?). Perhaps he was envisioning Philip Rivers as well…either way, it wasn’t difficult to connect the dots. Manning says the players who put themselves in harm’s way the most are defenseless wide receivers, often blindsided because of their positioning during routes.
- In an attempt to avoid the spotlight of rehabbing in Indianapolis last offseason, Manning spent time in June 2011 in Denver with the Colorado Rockies. Because of the lockout (ugh!), Manning couldn’t use the Colts’ facility or meet with team doctors, so he used the Rockies’ facility and visited with the team’s trainers. He stated it was an ideal situation compared to going to a local gym, and getting pestered by the woman on the neighboring treadmill about whether or not she should put Dallas Clark on her fantasy team.
- When asked about his favorite football memory, Manning’s response wasn’t winning Super Bowl XLI (which is my favorite memory), but rather the many lifelong relationships forged by playing football. He added those bonds in Denver will come, but “you have to go through some battles to form those relationships.”
I’ve said this a lot over the past decade; Peyton Manning won’t struggle to find work after his playing days are over. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have to think about that next chapter for a few more seasons.