If an adoring public is a factor in his decision, Peyton Manning gave no indication of such.
The free agent quarterback did not acknowledge the couple dozen fans gathered outside the fence of the Tennessee Titans training facility Wednesday afternoon when he entered to begin formal meetings with franchise personnel led by coach Mike Munchak. Even more media members assembled and barely had time to glimpse him or shoot video.
With a bag over his right shoulder and decked out in an orange shirt (the color was muted in relation to the University of Tennessee’s identifiable hue), Manning quickly made the short walk from the parking lot to the private entrance, used primarily by players and coaches.
He did offer two quick waves upon his departure after close to seven hours at the facility. The Titans issued no statement on the nature or progress of those talks.
He arrived at 2:34 p.m. and no timetable for his stay was made available. His previous meetings with teams — Denver, Arizona and Miami — reportedly lasted five hours or more.
Weeks after general manager Ruston Webster said, “We’re excited about our quarterback situation” with Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, the presence of Manning, the NFL’s only four-time most valuable player and the hubbub surrounding his arrival was a clear reminder of how things can change.
Manning became a free agent a week ago when the Indianapolis Colts chose to release him rather than pay a hefty roster bonus, particularly given that Manning sat out the entire 2011 season because of injury issues. Days later, Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams made a public proclamation of his desire to sign Manning, arguably the most popular UT player of all-time.
It is clear by his presence that Manning views Tennessee as a viable option for the next phase of his career. Some analysts even have speculated that the Titans might be the best fit among those with which he has had discussions.
• Another Volunteer: Manning was not the only former UT player at the Titans facility.
Just after Manning’s arrival, center Scott Wells, a product of Brentwood Academy and UT, drove up with offensive line coach Bruce Matthews.
Wells, who has spent his entire eight-year career with Green Bay, began meetings with team personnel in the morning and his time elsewhere with Matthews was the end of his day. He reemerged a short time later, got into a vehicle of his own and drove off.