Peyton Manning said it was a "gut feeling," albeit one that came from a lengthy and challenging process that led him to choose the Denver Broncos over the Tennessee Titans and several other teams.
“This process was hard. It was difficult,” Manning said Tuesday when he was introduced as the newest member of the Broncos. “I tried to embrace it. It was so public, the way that worked out. At times, I said ‘Just pick one and get it over with.’ But that would not have been the right reason to make a choice. It’s got to kind of feel right, that gut feeling I was kind of waiting on. I was happy when that hit me.”
In remarks that lasted roughly 30 minutes, Manning never mentioned the Titans by name, but he did express a certain amount of regret that his search for a new team after 14 years with the Indianapolis Colts took the time it did and required the efforts and resources of the franchises with which he dealt.
According to reports, Manning spoke with five teams and conducted workouts for the Broncos, Titans and San Francisco 49ers. The last of those workouts was for the Titans last Saturday at Knoxville.
Manning said he woke up Monday morning sure of where he wanted to play. At that point, he called Titans owner Bud Adams and someone with the 49ers before he notified Denver officials.
“I thought it was important to let [the other teams] know I truly appreciate the time that they took with me,” Manning said. “I really enjoyed talking football with some other teams throughout this process. … So that was exciting for me.
“… It’s the only way I knew to do it. I hate that other teams maybe got put in some tough positions.”
Manning noted that his first visit was with the Broncos and he said there was a comfort level with the franchise currently led by Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway right from the outset.
Manning currently ranks third all-time in the NFL with 54,828 passing yards. Elway, who played his entire career for Denver, is fourth.
“I have a great deal of respect for John Elway,” Manning said. “His knowledge and respect for the game is evident in everything he does.”
He said his discussions with teams included football and offensive philosophies, and that his workouts included throws that he currently can’t make as well as he would like because of the effects of multiple neck surgeries and issues with nerves in his throwing arm.
“In the end I felt the Broncos were just a great fit,” he said.
His deal is for a reported five years, $96 million and he stressed that he planned on “playing for a long time.”
The Broncos announced that Manning would wear the same number (18) that he did for Indianapolis, which released him earlier this month. That number was worn by Denver’s first quarterback, Frank Tripucka, and later retired. Manning and Tripuka spoke Tuesday and Manning agreed to take the number at Tripucka’s request.
In their opening remarks, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen referred to Manning as "one of the best ever to play this game" and Elway called him a future Hall of Famer who “has a lot of great football left in him.”
“The only way I knew to go through the process was to get to know some people, talk some football with some people and get a feel for the environment and the atmosphere,” Manning said. “So I did that.
“… You have options and you really believe you can make any of them work. It’s up to me and the people here to make it work.”