ManningWatch: Connecting dots, planes

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
1:13
PM ET
Tracking NFL free agency has sometimes meant tracking aircraft.

A flight enthusiast once helped me follow the plane Kurt Warner took from Arizona to San Francisco for a 2009 free-agent meeting with the 49ers.

Peyton Manning is the big story this week. News helicopters showed him arriving in Miami, where he has a home, following his release from the Indianapolis Colts. On Thursday night, a local Arizona sportscaster suggested a plane associated with Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill might have visited Miami, but others suggested that was improbable.

All of this led me to check out online flight records for planes associated with NFL owners.

An aircraft enthusiasts have linked to Denver's Pat Bowlen traveled Thursday from Denver to Stillwater, Okla., site of the Oklahoma State pro day. The Broncos' John Elway and other NFL talent evaluators were expected to attend that workout.

Here's where things get interesting. That same plane left Stillwater for Miami at 7:01 a.m. ET on Friday. The plane spent 72 minutes on the ground before heading back to Stillwater, where it was scheduled to land at 2:11 p.m. ET.

What does it mean? Hard to tell. We cannot prove even whether that plane was transporting Broncos personnel, let alone picking up Manning or another passenger. But an FAA search referencing the tail number lists the owner's address on "Broncos Parkway" in Englewood, Colo. This is very likely a Broncos plane.

With Elway spotted in Stillwater and the plane spending so little time in Miami, it's natural to wonder whether that aircraft was picking up Manning, then stopping in Stillwater to pick up Elway and the Broncos' brass before heading to Denver.

That would certainly match up with Peter King's tweet suggesting the Broncos "desperately" want to sign Manning.

All things to consider as the search for clues on Manning's future shifts from ground to air.

Update: The Denver Post is now reporting Manning will visit the Broncos, and ESPN has a story on the site now. The Post's report also suggests Manning could visit with Arizona and Miami.

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