The NFL could look radically different right now, had Peyton Manning taken one meeting. According to a new report, back before he decided to join the Denver Broncos after being released by the Indianapolis Colts, Manning snubbed Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
Then a career-long Colt, Manning was let go after injuries called the remainder of his career into question. The Colts landed the No. 1 pick with him out in 2011, using it to take Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
Still, there were a fair number of teams who believed that Manning could put in a few good years. Obviously they were right. Manning won the NFL MVP Award in 2013, reached three Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.
Denver beat out a group including the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals for Manning’s services. According to NBC Sports, Carroll and the Seahawks also tried to land Manning, to no avail. Had they succeeded, they may not have drafted Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft about a month after Manning chose Denver.
Disguised head coaches, decoy SUVs and private jet tracking. @Peter_King tells @jessica_smetana about some of the best anecdotes from Peyton Manning’s 2012 free agency for 'The Record' on @ApplePodcasts https://t.co/SfMMUYfVkr
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 18, 2020
Sports Illustrated‘s Jessica Smetana spoke to King on SI’s “The Record” podcast, where he shared the Seahawks tidbit. According to the longtime NFL insider, Carroll wouldn’t take no for an answer from Peytog Manning, a fact that put the legendary quarterback off more, if anything.
After Manning told Carroll not to bother flying to meet him in Denver, the former USC coach did it anyway, King says. “Manning didn’t go meet Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll flew to Denver chasing Peyton Manning and Manning never met with him. He got back on the plane and just flew back to Seattle. It was really kind of a crazy time.”
That might’ve been the best thing that could’ve happened for Carroll. The Seahawks wound up signing former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn, who was summarily beaten out by Russell Wilson for the starting job. A year later, Wilson and the dominant Seahawks defense beat Manning for the Super Bowl.