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Peyton Manning called Lions to endorse Jim Caldwell

Tony Dungy was not the only former member of the Indianapolis Colts organization to offer the Detroit Lions an endorsement of Jim Caldwell as head coach.

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General manager Martin Mayhew revealed Wednesday that Peyton Manning made an unsolicited phone call during the Lions' two-week coaching search.

According to Mayhew, Manning raved about Caldwell's abilities as a quarterback mentor as well as a head coach.

Manning is as respected as any player in the league. Even if his call didn't necessarily put Caldwell over the top, it had to be a comfort to a front office that was looking for a coach to put Matthew Stafford back on the development track after an error-filled season.

"Stafford is a lot like Peyton was early in his career, making a lot of explosive plays and some mistakes," Dungy told The Associated Press. "Jim was able to get through to Peyton to teach him that he could still make explosive plays without taking so many risks. And, he'll help Stafford do that."

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Caldwell also has the backing of 17-year NFL quarterback Kerry Collins, whom the new Lions coach tutored at Penn State in the early 1990s.

"(He) taught me what it took to play at that level, the preparation that it took and the attention to detail to doing things the right way all the time," Collins told the Detroit Free Press. "Not just some of the time, all of the time. That was his big thing, and as a young quarterback, it was a message that I really needed to hear and one that really helped me as I moved forward in my career."

Dungy and Collins both suggested Caldwell's greatest influence on quarterbacks is in teaching them how to eliminate mistakes and understand what goes into winning games at football's highest level. That makes him an excellent choice to guide the raw but uber-talented Stafford in Detroit.

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