(Jack Dempsey/AP)
(Jack Dempsey/AP)

Playing with Brady’s Favorite Teammate

Peyton Manning on finding a rhythm with Wes Welker, and how Denver's wideouts remind him of Colts greats Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne

PETER KING: You’re one year into your comeback after all those neck surgeries. Do you notice any difference when you throw a deep ball?

PEYTON MANNING: Yeah, I do. You know, I just feel like I can have a better idea of when I have to throw it. I can maybe hold it for a tick longer if I need to, to kind of see the [coverage] angle a little bit. Hey look, don’t get me wrong now, Demaryius Thomas is easy to underthrow, let’s put it that way. Even Aaron Rodgers might underthrow him. This guy can flat go now. Eric Decker runs well too. But, yeah, I have more knowledge of what I can do and how I feel. And then, also, you just have more knowledge of them. You can’t get in one year what you had with great receivers like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. But we did make a lot of strides last year, because they played a lot, and those guys stayed healthy and practiced every day. I do not get into comparisons with the Colts, but the best thing about Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne is they practiced every day. They never missed practice. I remember talking to Thomas and Decker last year, and they would say, ‘Tell me about those guys.’ First thing I would tell them: ‘They never missed practice.’ I can’t tell you what that does to your timing. I mean, how many more reps are you getting? Wes Welker, from everything I’m learning so far, sure seems like you’d almost have to amputate a limb to keep him out of practice. He is a football gym rat, which is what I always thought. I was talking to Clyde Christensen, who coached me with the Colts. Clyde goes, ‘Is Welker just like we thought?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ We always thought he was a grinder, a gym rat. It’s certainly nice to be playing with him.

KING: Did you ask Tom Brady for any advice on Welker?

MANNING: I didn’t go there. That’s a little awkward. Tom called me and told me how much I’m gonna enjoy him, that he’s one of, if not his favorite, teammate of all time. Tom just said how much he loves football. I found that out when [Duke coach and Manning friend David] Cutcliffe set up a great little mini-camp for us before we started OTAs. It was great, especially when you’ve got a new receiver. After every throw, there’s a discussion. Like, ‘Hey Wes, that’s exactly what I was looking for’ or, ‘Hey, I really think I need one more yard and stick at the top.’ Then he’s going, ‘Hey Peyton, I’m gonna stem outside.’ You know, it’s the conversation. If you’re just throwing and not talking, I’m not sure what you’re really doing. Then, any incompletion that we’re throwing, we’re throwing it again. If you just go on to the next route, what are you really doing? A lot of guys go out and throw the route tree. Let’s throw one hitch, one slant. Well, let’s say you go 12-for-12. I mean did you really master the route? How about: Let’s go throw 12 hooks and 12 outs? Let’s go 12-for-12 on those. Let’s master that route. Let’s simulate press coverage. Let’s simulate zone. Another thing: Wes is a texter at night. You know, he’ll be watching film and he’ll text, ‘Hey, I just saw the film of that play from today. I’m gonna push [the defensive back] up two more yards.’ That’s great for me. Helps us get on the same page faster. As a quarterback, when you get a receiver who’s like that, I mean, that gets you pumped up about football.

KING: What will you be doing in 15 years?

MANNING: That’s a good question. A very good question. [Pauses for six seconds …] You know, a lot of times you’re in the locker room, and you hear guys talking about some investment or some appearance they’re gonna make, and how much money they’re gonna get from it, and I’m looking at them, thinking, That’s the guy who dropped two balls in practice today, or, That’s the guy who missed that block Sunday. The point is, this is what I do now, and I think I owe everything I’ve got to the Broncos to try to win this season. So I’m not going to answer that question. I do hope that what I do after football doesn’t get the quite the attention and news coverage it got the last time I changed teams and came here.

Check out The MMQB’s ongoing 3Q Interview series. Plus, check out this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring Peyton Manning and his Broncos receivers on the cover (in most regions) and a feature story by Chris Ballard. Available beginning Wednesday on newsstands, tablets and through our digital portal

More from The MMQB
50 comments
MicahThoughtlife
MicahThoughtlife

I'm not sure what defences are expected to do about this Broncos receiving corps this season. I don't remember a group as complete as this. You've got the deepthreat in DT. You've got the big bodied possession guy with Decker. Then you've got a 100 catch demon like Welker in the slot. It's not just that they're talented, their games are diverse. I'm struggling to remember a corp as varied, complete and able as those three right there. Then, of course, you've got Peyton to contend with, yelling several audibles and shifts a snap and maybe a little stronger one year removed from those neck procedures. I mean, hey, it's gotta be a long day at the office for any defence rolling up at mile high this season. A very long day.

LarryDarrell
LarryDarrell

Great read.  Even if you're not a Bronco fan, you've got to appreciate the consummate professionals, no matter what their craft, who take their performance to a higher level.  Natural talent is is great, but is fleeting.  It will only get you so far and last so long.  It's the guy who is the grinder...the perfectionist.  He's the guy I admire - be it the professional athlete, the Navy Seal, or my tailor down the street.  What I admire about these individuals is their putting forth the effort to be the best they can be.  That said...I AM a Bronco fan.  It's preseason Eve and I am giddy.  This is OUR time!  Go Broncos!

MikeO'Donnell
MikeO'Donnell

As a lifelong pats fan I have so much respect for Peyton. He is one of the best ever and such a pro about EVERYTHING. Impossible to dislike IMO.

David50
David50

Im very sick of hearing about Manning

I hope some team in the AFC West pounds the over blown Broncos.

RayHuggyBearYoung
RayHuggyBearYoung

What happened to Marvin Harrison?  I remember off season there was a murder thing around his neck and he never came back to the NFL.

GusRandall
GusRandall

Great f'ing interview. Peyton really gives thorough, thoughtful answers.

TBFan
TBFan

Cool insight. Thanks Peter. Manning & Welkers are machines & DT & beasts! Yessir, can't wait for some real (not pre-season) football!

MorganLiu
MorganLiu

Guys, manning doesn't talk about his endorsements in the locker room, that makes it all better.  He's the good guy.  Sure, he does billions of commercials and appearances, but guys who talk about it in the locker room, that's the real problem.  Somehow that's why they lose football games, lol.

RoyalClough
RoyalClough

@stagger If you look at Packer jerseys they have a large Bellin Health patch on. Made me do a double take when I noticed last year. Only in training camp thank god!

canadianox
canadianox

I love how he has appeared in about 100 commercials in past 5 years and then talks about how doing this is hurting some of his teammates who dropped a ball.  Probably dropped one of the "ducks" he threw last year.

vrecksler
vrecksler

I love his perspective of focusing on his current job, not his future opportunities. It's a mindset that a blue collar guy like myself can respect.

OraPike
OraPike

yes---on sunday when payton plays the tv will be on.  What a great player with an even greater attitude.

hight
hight

incredible job by archie raising these two dudes.  they both lived the good life and that usually makes for spoiled kids (can you say johnny football).  both of them are charismatic and seem to always do the right thing. 


i may even test drive a buick.  wait i need to get an old man hat first

bay2sierra
bay2sierra

If I remember correctly, he didn't throw deep many time in last year's playoff loss. If his arms get tired and cannot throw deep in December and January, it doesn't matter who's the receiver.

JohnTurntable
JohnTurntable

Talk about a guy that knows how to say the right thing. Sure glad I'm a Broncos fan!

MarkBritten
MarkBritten

I can see Manning going into politics some how.

stagger
stagger

Wow. Never noticed corporate sponsors (other than the clothing manufacturer) on jerseys before. So, does Buick sponsor the whole team or is it just Peyton?

JackDennis
JackDennis

To me, Peyton's answer on what he'll be doing was a crock. This guy is on TV all year long shilling for pizza, Buick's, Sony, and I'm sure about a dozen more products. I often ask myself when I see him in some commercial whether he doesn't feel like he's hogging all that endorsement money at the expense of teammates - and here he is knocking other teammates about lack of focus. Here's my guess as to Peyton's post-football career: he's going to become a banker, as in PeytonBank or Bank of Manning...I can see his advertisements already.

DannyCarrao
DannyCarrao

What a class act - thoughtful answers, respectful, everything geared toward giving your best.  I'm sure he has his faults like we all do, but it would be great if the NFL had a lot more people with his attitude and approach...

Grant2
Grant2

@MicahThoughtlife I'd take the Colts receiving corps with Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Stokely over the current Broncos' crop. Don't get me wrong, they're good, but that Colts group had 2 Hall of Famer's and an All-Pro. Plus, whatever Dallas Clark was doing at the time. One of the all-time great offenses in football history.

Richard Long
Richard Long

@David50 Keep hoping.  Injuries are a much bigger threat than any AFC West team 

Sanders.cal72
Sanders.cal72

You pretty much have the details correct.  I heard that a gun was ditched at a carwash.  Not sure if that is true, but MH never was people person.  He always sat by himself on the bench.  Which isn't that odd, but he never seemed to get any sort of joy from the game.  A touchdown was like doing his homework.  They just made him disappear.

Mike26
Mike26

@RyanTaylor I don't believe he'd be a good coach; "coaching" while playing is far different from doing it from the sidelines.  I'll wager a bet his future will have nothing to do with football IF he doesn't end up in a TV booth.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@MorganLiu What a stupid post.  

Manning is simply saying that when you're AT WORK, you should focus exclusively ON WORK.  And the locker room counts as being at work, obviously

That Manning does his own endorsements and commercials is completely irrelevant to the point.  Your Tall Poppy Syndrome is showing.

Michael50
Michael50

@MorganLiu The guy answers a question and here come the Internet trolls rallying up to pick apart every answer. So what if he does a few commercials during the offseason. Manning is referring to players wasting team time (practice, locker room time, etc.) talking about endorsements instead of how to improve the team. 

If half of what has been said about Manning is true, I can guarantee he spends more time watching film and working with his teammates than the vast majority of NFL players. Just watch his pre-snap routine. You think that comes from not spending countless hours studying film?

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@canadianox Another guy too thickheaded to get the actual point Manning was making there.  Or maybe you just struggle with reading comprehension, I don't know.

You ever heard the concept "time and place"?  

Michael50
Michael50

@bay2sierra Yes, it was his tired arm that lost that playoff game. Could not have been the defense allowing Baltimore to throw an 80 yard bomb with little time left and no timeouts. Surely, couldn't be that! Must be Manning's tired arm.

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

@stagger If you go to a practice during the preseason, you'll see those on all the player's jerseys.  It's a bit weird the first time you notice it.  

cookie8287
cookie8287

@JackDennis Im pretty sure he does those commercials in the off season. He was talking about players during practice and at a time when they should be working for the team. 

cookie8287
cookie8287

@DannyCarrao Agreed. Would like to hear from Thomas or Decker about how different he is to other QB's.

Sanders.cal72
Sanders.cal72

I just read the article.  How do you name your own killer and an arrest is never made.  He was lucky to just retire.  Maybe Marvin Harrison and Mike Vanderjagt could hang out.  I hear MV doesn't drink though, not a liquored up kicker after all.  

MicahThoughtlife
MicahThoughtlife

@Mike26 @RyanTaylor I think he'd have as good a chance as any to coach. But the thing I'll agree with you on, it's the TV booth where I see him. A personality as likeable as that, with his football brain? Made for TV.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@Mike26 @RyanTaylor There's no reason for you to just assume he wouldn't be a good coach, while there's plenty of objective evidence to suggest that he could be.

Afterall, he's  basically been the de facto OC of his team for the last 5+ years now (at least).  You're right that it's not the same from the sidelines, but there's also a good reason coaches around the league have nicknamed Peyton "the professor".

RyanTaylor
RyanTaylor

@Mike26 @RyanTaylor Well thats the way he made it sound... like coaching was off the table.  But I disagree I think he'd make an amazing coach because they're always saying he's not the most physically gifted qb.  He's become the greatest of all time by studying and applying himself.  I would just hate to see him out of the game all together.  

Stallions23
Stallions23

@cookie8287 @DannyCarrao Well, Thomas and Decker played with Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn before Manning came to town. It's not like they have a lot to choose from and I'm sure they'd be very diplomatic when they responded that Manning pays more attention to details.

Newsletter