I love reading about football almost as much as writing about it. It never gets old. The beauty of managing this blog is that I get to share the best stuff with you.
It will be hard to find a more thorough, fascinating bit of reporting to share than Peter King's piece on the Peyton Manning courtship in this week's Sports Illustrated. So go read it yourself, then come back here for the seven lessons I drew from it.
1. Manning was the one conducting the interviews
One of my favorite nuggets came at the very beginning of the article. Peyton Manning asked Broncos coordinators Mike McCoy and Jack Del Rio if they were "one and done" in Denver, using the Broncos as a stepping stone to a head-coaching job.
2. Manning likes stats
The Broncos came prepared with numbers to help assuage some natural fears about playing in Denver. With some help from his PR staff, John Fox pointed out that the average temperature for Broncos home games is 60.1 degrees. Fox also pointed out that his teams are 39-3 when teams score 26 points or more. Manning's teams have averaged 26 points throughout his career.
3. John Elway was the right guy for the job
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen's hire of Elway paid off huge over the last few weeks. Elway knew what Manning wanted to hear.
"There's got to be a dagger in your gut right now," Elway told Manning when they met. "Take your time. Be thorough. Make the right decision, whether it's us or someone else."
Elway had the confidence to understand the situation and not act desperate.
"I never asked him who was in it or where we ranked. I just know if I was in his shoes, I'd know how I'd want to be treated. And that's how I tried to treat Peyton."
4. Manning had interest in the Redskins
Manning learned of the Redskins' trade for the No. 2 draft pick while visiting the Broncos. He reportedly was stunned, but he still met with Mike Shanahan the next day as a courtesy. During that meeting, Elway had some fun with the process by sending his former coach a text.
"Hey, Mike, put in a good word for us with Peyton," the text read.
5. Manning does not like surprises
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider flew to Denver unannounced to show how serious they were. That type of move might work on college players, but Manning didn't appreciate it. He never met with the Seahawks.
6. Manning has one small regret
Based on that sentence above, it sounds like the Titans were the runners-up for Manning's services.
7. Manning has to be in control
From the interviews to the location of the meetings, Manning ran this show. He dodged media when he met with the Dolphins by meeting in Indianapolis. His buddy, Brandon Stokley, yelled "jogger!" or "cyclist!" when a civilian passed by their informal workout in Denver. That way, Manning could hide the football until the players were alone again.
"Make a decision and do it like hell."