Was Peyton Manning’s “last rodeo” actually a second-to-last rodeo?
Not exactly. But the future Hall of Famer did have to take a timeout from his holiday shopping last winter to turn down a former coach’s pseudo-inquiry into a potential return.
That’s what we learned Friday from Archie Manning, who told The Times-Picayune that Dolphins coach Adam Gase (Peyton’s offensive coordinator from 2013 to 2014 in Denver) reached out to his son after Ryan Tannehill went down with a season-ending knee injury in December. Don’t believe it? Well, Mr. Manning has the text receipts to back up the story.
“It started with Gase,” Archie Manning said while at the annual Manning Passing Academy. “He said, ‘Hey 18, Tannehill went down.’ He said, ‘I think he’s going to miss some time. The first question I’m going to get at the press conference in the morning is if I’m going to try to bring you to Miami. What do you want me to tell them?’
“The text message came back from Peyton, ‘You tell them I could probably come play, but there’s no way I can miss carpool the next two weeks.’ So, he was done.”
Noble effort from Gase. The Dolphins were 8-5 and in the middle of the AFC wild-card race when Tannehill went down. While Matt Moore is a competent backup, he did lead Miami to its first playoff berth since 2008, there’s no bust in Canton in his future. Gase’s text was a no-lose situation.
It’s fun to think of the parallel universe where Peyton Manning laced ’em back up one more time and took the Dolphins to the playoffs, but he seems pretty content with retired life.
“I did not miss it like a lot of people told me that I would,” Manning said. “People would say, ‘Don’t go to games. You’re going to feel miserable. It’s not what you want to do.’ And that just wasn’t true. I enjoyed being at games; I enjoyed being a fan.
“I heard Derek Jeter say, they asked him if he missed it. And he said, look, if you could parachute in just for the World Series, yeah, he’d love to do that. But, as far as everything that goes into getting ready for that, I did it for a long time, and I got to kind of end on my terms and was very much at peace with it all year.”