- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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At least as Peyton Manning shopped around, he was pretty much invisible.
Today, Indianapolis Colts fans had to see him hold up an orange jersey with his name and the No. 18 on it, then stand in front of a blue banner decorated with Denver Broncos and Sports Authority logos while talking about a comfort level and gut feeling that steered him to his new team.
For Tennessee Titans fans still reeling from Manning picking the Broncos instead, don’t read between the lines. He praised Denver for being committed to winning. He can compliment his new team without it being an insult to the runners-up, the Titans and 49ers.
He did not say those franchises are not committed to winning.
“In the end I felt the Broncos were just a great fit,” he said. “... I’ve always believed it’s up to me and the people around me to make this the right decision. You know, it’ll be speculated on and debated for months to come whether it was the right decision or not. I’m going to go out and try to make it the right decision.”
Make that years to come.
A couple other things of note from our perspective at AFC South headquarters:
On standing in front of a logo that’s not a horseshoe: “It’s certainly very different,” he said. “There is no question about it. This will take some time for me to get comfortable with. This is all new to me. You’re talking about a guy that was one team for 14 years. ...
“The Indianapolis Colts are the only team that I’ve ever known. I told John [Elway] and coach [John] Fox that I am going to need their help to help me sort of get through this transition. ...
“I think the sooner that I get started going to work, going to life weights, getting into my new locker, putting on some Denver Broncos gear, getting going, that’s all going to make this process easier for me.”
On the timing: Manning was apologetic for having any negative impact on things with the two teams he didn’t select.
“The process, it took some time,” he said. “It’s the only way I knew to do it. I hated that it took time, that other teams maybe got put in tough positions. I hate that about it. But it’s the only way I knew to do the process, to find out what makes the most sense. I’m glad all that part’s over with. I can get down to football now. ...”
“I’m sorry that it took long. I didn’t know what the baseline was. The baseline for me was to feel good about a decision and then go out and make it the right decision.”
On his powers: He’ll offer opinions when asked. But he stressed he’s not in Denver to coordinate the offense or make personnel decisions.
Yes, he’ll be influential. But being a franchise quarterback is a full-time job. It’s silly, really, that so many people need to be reminded.
Center Jeff Saturday has a visit scheduled with the Broncos. Speculation is rampant that tight end Dallas Clark, tight end Jacob Tamme, running back Joseph Addai and/or former offensive coordinator Tom Moore in some role could follow Manning to Denver.
“There is never a teammate that I’ve had that I didn’t want to play with for the rest of my life, I’ve always said that,” Manning said. “Guys who played in Indianapolis, it was hard to see them retire or move on. ...I know there are some players out there that the Broncos are looking at.
“When asked about those players I told them exactly how I felt about the great teammates that I’ve had. But once again when it comes to personnel, that’s just not my department. They’re going to do whatever it takes to get the best players here to help us win games and that’s all I want.”
On his sales pitch: He didn’t put on a hard sell to the three teams he wound up choosing from.
He offered up his medical records since 1998 and he threw about 60 balls for teams, asking them if they needed to see anything else.
He said he told teams what still felt awkward or shaky. And after providing all that info, he asked them if they still were interested. He said he was pleased and encouraged that they were.