PALM BEACH, Fla. — Broncos Head Coach John Fox, attending the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida spoke to the media this Tuesday morning commenting on his new quarterback, Peyton Manning.
Responding to the first question which was about his plans for Manning, he laughed and said “play him.”
He went on to mention several reasons why Manning might have chosen Denver.
“This is a small fraternity of people—players, coaches, everybody. You figure there are only 31 other people that do what you do. I think guys see what everybody’s work is. We look at tape. When I say, ‘We,’ I’m talking about the league, our players and coaches. I think [Manning] was aware of that. You’d have to ask him, but that could have been a factor.”
“I think when we visited—you kind of know that day is coming, all of us do. Until it happens, it doesn’t hit you. I think that was a little bit of his situation. I thought it was important to get it rolling as far as what that process was. I didn’t know if he and his agent, Tom Condon, really laid out any kind of a plan. I can’t say that I had a perfect plan or that we had a perfect plan. But, we just meshed and at the end of the day, it was good. It was hard, because he’d been through such an emotional rollercoaster, but I think it was good that he got into another building, saw what it was like and started the healing process, I guess.”
“Like all of us, when you make decisions in your life it’s a gut feeling and it usually revolves around people. You want to feel comfortable. There are different cities that have different attractions or distractions but at the end of the day, it usually revolves around the people you are going to be with all hours of the day and sometimes night.”
“I’ve gotten to know the family over the years. He’s close friends with a guy that belongs to my golf club and he’d been there to play golf. So, I’ve been around him a few times—Pro Bowls, just pleasantries when you play. So, I kind of knew the guy. I’m familiar with both brothers and even his dad I’ve run into a few times at games. But really, it was, ‘Hey, we’re interested.’ I think he had some interest in us and really through the whole process at the end of the day, I’m glad he chose us.”
“There are rules in this league. He was property of the Indianapolis Colts until that day they had their press conference, and actually it wasn’t even over then. You had to wait until the waivers cleared that night through our waiver system in New York. I contacted him I think that night when he returned to Miami. Obviously it was a very emotional day for him, I knew that. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear a friendly voice. We talked, I gave him some time. I think the next day we talked again, set something up very quickly and got him to Denver. We’re glad he chose us at the end of it all.”
Talking about the offense he said:
”I thought our staff, our players, our team did a good job adjusting to Tim Tebow’s strengths, and I’m sure our players [and] our staff will do a great job of adjusting to Peyton Manning’s strengths. I think it will be quite a bit different. I thought last year’s was effective, and I expect this year’s to be effective.”
“I think like anything, Peyton is like a coach on the field. He paints a great picture. He’s going to direct traffic as well as maybe anybody in the league. That is that experience that I was talking about with our quarterback a year ago—it takes time to develop that. Peyton has been through those trenches, so he knows. As I think John [Elway] said, I think he’ll raise all boats and he’s very helpful. He’ll speed up the process, so that’s a positive that he has that capability.”
“I think sometimes what defines you as a quarterback, is your ability to convert on third downs and he’s had a pretty good history in that area. Tim is going to develop, as I said even before we traded him, he’s a young player that is getting better at maybe the hardest position in sports to compete at. He’s just going to get better. I’m not changing my tune just because he’s not with us anymore. I think the Jets got a heck of a player and he’ll grow and develop there.
“I think he’ll raise all boats on our offense—it doesn’t matter whether it’s players or coaches. We’re really excited. We know his M.O., he’s a General out there who does a great job, and we’re looking forward to him doing that to our offense.”
“Part of coaching is utilizing your players’ strengths so they can have success. In Peyton’s case, he’s exhibited that over a long period of time at a high level. In my opinion, he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he’s done playing, and I hope that’s not anytime soon. He will definitely bring the best out of anybody that we trot out there on offense and that’s what we’re planning on him doing.
“There is no substitute for experience whether you are dealing with a young quarterback or a very veteran quarterback. [Manning] has that ability. We are going to push that envelope to the brink and let him take charge or be that General. I think our coaching staff is very excited about getting going when that time is permitted, and we look forward to that opportunity.”
Coach Fox also spoke about Tim Tebow. “We took a good first step [last year]. It’s not where we want to end up, and Tim was a big part of that. I know that I will be forever grateful. He sparked our city. Our team did, but he had his hand in it for sure.”
“…it’s never easy to say goodbye to anybody. In this league, it’s part of the business. I talk to our players all the time, when we’re in season, that’s football. The offseason is business. At the end of the season when you stand in front of your team, I don’t care which coach, it’s never easy. Just like your final cut-downs at camp are never easy. You get to know people that in essence you’re firing. Changing is not easy. Tim did a great job for us. Things are always changing. We said that Tim Tebow was going to be our starting quarterback going into the season. That wasn’t a lie—it’s a fluid process and things change. We had an opportunity to get Peyton Manning. We had no idea of that at the end of our season. It’s a process, it’s a fluid one and you make moves to get better. Whether it’s Brodrick Bunkley leaving, it’s a business. There are no hard feelings, we respect everything he did and he knows the feeling is mutual. We wish him nothing but the best, and the same with Tim Tebow.”
“Respectfully, there wasn’t contact immediately because you don’t know you’re getting [Manning]. Nothing changed. When he made the decision, we had discussions with Tim. At the point where we were going to sign Peyton Manning is when we had discussions. Tim understood. He gets it. I told him then, along with John [Elway], we told him then that we were going to move forward and do what’s best for both parties. That’s our job. That’s what [Owner and CEO] Pat Bowlen hired us to do and we’ll attempt to do it the best we can. Time went on, this opportunity came and there were discussions with Tim and his representatives throughout the process. We tried to do what was best for him and what was best for the Denver Broncos.”
“I think that in our league or in sports or in our society, I think he’s a type of kid that should be celebrated. I think there are a lot of so-so stories, and I think he’s a good story.”
“I would never bet against him in anything, really. He gets it. He’s a great teammate. He doesn’t have a lot of wrong answers, let me put it that way. Like I said, I’d never bet against him.”
How did he react to hearing that Manning had chosen the Broncos?
“I attempted a vertical, but you could’ve slid a paper underneath it. It was very exciting. Having been in recruiting a long, long time ago—all of us had, actually, John [Elway], Peyton—you’ve been on that side of it, so it’s always exciting to get a player of that caliber.”
“I’m almost giddy, to note, and rightfully so. He still has a lot of work to do and we still have a lot of work to do. There are no automatics in this league, for sure. What we make of it will be the key.”