Peyton Manning has been to 10 Pro Bowls, including every one since 2002. He’s been a first-team All-Pro quarterback five times, including each of the last two seasons. He’s won three Associated Press Most Valuable Player awards and was honored another year as the Offensive Player of the Year. He’s the NFL’s career leader in passing yards per game and the active leader in avoiding sacks. The list could go on and on when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts quarterback. He’s proven his durability, his talent and his ability to win, particularly by adding the title Super Bowl champion in front of his name in 2006.
Still, Manning enters the 2010 season without one title: Highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.
Peyton Manning joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss being the most recognizable player in the NFL, how he avoids getting sacked, whether there is a nobility to taking a hit, his brother Eli’s injury, when the right time will be for the Colts to use a high draft pick on a quarterback, why he isn’t the highest-paid quarterback, what he would say to former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin and whether he’s interested in coaching the Vols later on.
On being one of the most recognizable players:
“Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana, I probably get a little more recognized, but [the celebrity] is probably NFL Sunday Ticket’s fault more than anything. Now, everywhere you go, you’ve got NFL football fans that are keeping up with it and know what you look like. It’s kind of part of the deal, but it’s fun. It’s not a problem.”
On he avoids sacks more because of his arms or his feet:
“Probably a combination. I slide here or there, I step up here or there where a guy like a [Dwight] Freeney or a defensive end is coming around the end hard, reaching for you, just a quick step up or a reset, as we call it. … I think my offensive line, throughout my 13 years, has been awesome for me. I think the offseason work has as much to do with that as anything because those receivers are so tuned in to getting open on time and knowing when the ball’s coming out. I know when they’re coming out of their breaks. … The idea is to get the ball out of my hands and into the playmakers’ hands.”
On whether there is a nobility to taking a hit in the pocket:
“I think staying in the pocket there is, but I think the guys that are taking sacks, the offensive line is going to get blamed. But watch hard enough and replay it over and over again and see how long a quarterback is holding the ball. If there was a short receiver open and he passed on him because he wanted to throw the deep post for the touchdown, that’s great every now and then but if you’re holding the ball and getting sacked, that’s not a good thing.”
On brother, Eli Manning, getting injured and needing stitches during the preseason:
“I was kind of a stitch fan, or a stitch kid growing up, but I can’t really ever remember having 12 across the forehead like Eli got. It was concerning to see. I was really relieved that he didn’t have any kind of concussion or neck injury. I think Eli and I have the two most consecutive starts in the NFL and he’s one of the most durable quarterbacks in the NFL, one of the toughest guys. I’m glad to hear he’s only going to miss one week.”
On when the Colts can use a high draft pick on a quarterback:
“I don’t know. I’ve never had feelings toward that one way or the other. If that’s what the Colts felt like they needed to do to improve our team and that was the [way] they decided to go, I guess there’d be a reason for that. I think [Colts general manager] Bill Polian is a guy that you can’t ever second-guess when it comes to the draft. … Certainly, right now, I feel like it would be somewhat disappointing because you’d like to be able to get another player that could help us at another position.”
On why he wouldn’t be the highest-paid quarterback:
“I can’t answer that. I don’t know how to answer that. I know one thing that’s always helped me in 13 years is every time I’ve gone out on the practice field and the playing field, I’ve never thought about anything but football. I’ve been able to have complete focus on football, I’ve never had to think about the business side or the contract side. I played six years of my first contract and I’m going into the seventh year of my second contract. I played out my last year back in 2003 and it looks like I might do it again this year. That’s just the direction the Colts have decided to go and I’m under contract. That’s my philosophy. All I know is 2010 I’m under contract and I want to have the best year that I possibly can and be the best player I can be and hopefully it gets done at some time.”
On what he would say to Lane Kiffin:
“It’d probably be a short conversation. I certainly got to know him when he was the head coach at Tennessee. I don’t have anything personal against him. But I think the one thing where Tennessee, as a whole group was kind of hurt, our pride was hurt, was that we didn’t think that Tennessee was a transition job. … I’ve always thought and the big orange nation thought that Tennessee was a destination job. Unless you were fired or retired, that was the place to be. … I wish Lane the best of luck there at Southern Cal and I’m sure he’ll do a good job.”
On whether he’d consider coaching Tennessee down the road:
“I doubt it. I enjoy coaching young kids. We have a football camp in Louisiana. We get to coach eighth-graders through seniors on playing quarterback. I don’t call it coaching. I enjoy helping young quarterbacks. … I think it’d be hard in college to go on the recruiting trail. In the NFL, people will kind of say, ‘Well, you’re a good play-caller, you’d be a good coach.’ I’m only good at calling plays when I’m playing quarterback. I think at it when I get on the sidelines. I’ve called some plays in the past from the sidelines … and I stink at it.”