Archie Manning watched his middle son take his time playing football, and believes he won’t rush into anything in retirement either. Archie chats Peyton’s next move, Eli’s big change and a new NFL parent in the limelight

By Jenny Vrentas
May 12, 2016

It’s been two months since Peyton Manning announced his retirement after 18 NFL seasons and two Super Bowl rings. That’s not a long period of time when it comes to the future Hall of Fame quarterback choosing a post-football career, but there’s already been plenty of speculation—will he take a network TV job, or aim to run an NFL team like John Elway, or even coach at his alma mater, Tennessee? The MMQB talked to Archie Manning, the family patriarch, about the early stages of his middle son’s retirement and what might be next for him. Peyton Manning didn’t rush his retirement decision, and his dad is convinced he won’t rush into what’s next, either.

VRENTAS: What have Peyton’s first two months away from the game been like?

MANNING: Peyton is doing fine. He’s been here [in New Orleans] once; all the boys and their families were here for an event at their high school. We’ve done a couple of events together. He does a lot of corporate speaking, and he had a good bit of stuff on his calendar anyway before he retired. So he is fulfilling that, and I think he’s got a lot of people coming at him with a lot of different things he might be able to do.

VRENTAS: How much football have you talked with him since he decided to retire?

MANNING: Not a lot. I think the first time Olivia and I felt something a little different was the draft. We were following one team in the draft, instead of closely following two, so that was a little bit of an adjustment.

Peyton Manning has been busy in retirement, including a quick pitstop at a NASCAR race in Bristol last month.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

VRENTAS: What time of year do you think it sets in for a newly retired player?

MANNING: Training camp. He’s busy now. Come August, I’m sure he will be doing things, but he won't be in camp. He did it for a long time, but I think Peyton will be fine. He said he would miss it for sure, but I think the one thing about Peyton, he will be busy, and that’s the good thing. I think if you just sit around doing nothing, that’s when you really miss it.

VRENTAS: The TV networks are no doubt circling. Do you see him taking a broadcast job either this year, or in the future?

MANNING: He is trying to keep an open mind on that. He has certainly looked at it hard this year and had some good opportunities there, but I think he really is being truthful when he says he hasn’t had a free fall in a long, long time. He kind of, I think, wants to not be obligated during the fall and do some things he was not able to do when he was playing football. And then after this first year, kind of look at it again and go from there.

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VRENTAS: What about a job running a team, whether it be in the front office or ownership or coaching?

MANNING: I know people have said they think Peyton would be good at that. That’s one of the things, among several, that he would consider and look at. I think Peyton is being really truthful when he says he purposely didn’t zero in on anything definite in the latter years of his playing career. He tried to get all he could get out of football, and now he’s going to really take his time and explore all his options. And I would say, some of them involve football and some don’t. He’ll kind of take a good look at everything. He’s pretty good at doing that.

“I do get asked if he will come back,” Archie says. “But he won’t. He’s done. He’s 40 years old, and I think he kind of knows the NFL is probably not the place for 40 year olds.”

VRENTAS: What might appeal to him about running a team?

MANNING: Well, he’s been around football all his life to date. But again, I don’t think he knows. I think it has more been other people saying that. I don’t think you’ve heard a lot from him saying that. So I look at that just like coaching, broadcasting, business, anything—that’s one of the many avenues that he would possibly look at.

VRENTAS: Would it be challenging for him to be on TV or be involved with another NFL team while Eli is still playing?

MANNING: Well, I think if he was doing TV, and Eli was playing, yeah, that would be [challenging]. But he would handle it. I don’t see any issues if he was working for a team. That happens all the time. Family and friends, competing against them, that kind of stuff is common. I do think he is looking forward to maybe seeing Eli play a couple times in person. I don’t think he’ll be hanging around people’s training camps, but if he was in the New York area that time of year doing something else, he might stop in—if he was invited, of course.

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VRENTAS: What was your conversation like when he told you his decision to retire?

MANNING: We weren’t there in person or anything. Certainly toward the end of the season, I wasn’t going to bring that up, unless he did. And I don’t think he did. He was too busy playing. And after the Super Bowl, everybody was too busy celebrating. Over the next few weeks, we talked about different things. But not thoroughly; we didn’t have a face-to-face sit-down. My thoughts on that were, he was a big boy, he was almost 40 years old, and he has made big decisions all his life, so it was going to work out. But we were glad to be there for his retirement day.

VRENTAS: You were featured in Gatorade’s farewell ad, in which family and friends read from handwritten thank-you notes Peyton had written to them through the years. How did that come together?

MANNING: They did that without Peyton knowing about it. They counseled with me and [my wife] Olivia and [Peyton’s wife] Ashley. Everybody knew about it but him. That’s somewhat of a unique thing he does, that he has always done, so we were proud the way Gatorade paid tribute to him. They did everything between the time he retired and the draft, so they had to work fast and kind of behind the scenes. Going to see those people, and trying to find out who had their letters, and who all he had written to. It was a big job by Gatorade. They showed it to him a week before it ran, when they had it virtually finished. He was honored they chose to do that. And it certainly went over well.

Archie tried to split his time between attending Peyton’s games and Eli’s because "Peyton would keep up.”
Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

VRENTAS: Both of your sons played as rookies in the NFL. Peyton played right away, and Eli came in midseason. It has worked out for both of them in the long-term, but there’s a lot of debate today about how soon rookie quarterbacks should play. What are the key factors in determining that?

MANNING: The factors are: A) who else is there, and B) how far along your offense is. Is it set up with some other veteran players that you can protect a young, new quarterback and give him a chance? Every situation is a little different. You know it’s going to be a yo-yo; there are going to be some ups and downs. But what you hope you can do is get a young quarterback out there and get him the experience he needs where he can progress, and also protect him, keep him healthy and keep him upright.

VRENTAS: Do you agree that today, there is less patience than ever for young QBs?

MANNING: There really is. The ’71 draft that I was part of was the first time quarterbacks went 1, 2, 3. Back then, the theory was it takes five years for a quarterback [to develop]. A lot of times, you’d like to draft your quarterback, and let him play behind somebody for three or four years, and then work him in there. Of course, those days are over. There are so many changes in football, but that’s definitely one of them.

VRENTAS: No one would ever be given five years today.

MANNING: No, you could be on your third team in five years now. It is different. And I’m not sure it’s really fair. I think it is really hard on some youngsters coming from the system they ran in college, if it is really different than what the pros are doing. Most of these young quarterbacks now, as their senior season is completed, they go into combine prep. And for most of these spread quarterbacks, that is all about taking snaps and doing 3-, 5- and 7-step drops, which a lot of them never did in college. They start that right away, even before going to the combine, and then obviously once they get drafted by a team, they get plenty of it in offseason work and OTAs. But it is a transition.

VRENTAS: Eli has also faced changes this offseason. We saw him get choked up during Tom Coughlin’s resignation press conference. How tough was it for Eli to lose the only NFL head coach he’s ever played for?

MANNING: Eli’s kind of like that. Eli has emotions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I told Eli how unique it was for any player, especially a quarterback, to spend his first 12 years under the same head coach. That is very rare. He considered himself very fortunate to do that. After 12 years that you have been with one guy, you have a relationship, and you are attached, and you never like to see a coach go out. It hurts more the more you know the guy, the longer you have been with him. I was proud of Eli for the way he handled that, because he does have a great relationship with Tom Coughlin. On the other hand, I think Eli, if he had to change, he has had two good years under coach [Ben] McAdoo, and they have really been pretty productive years, and he feels like they can put something together and get going. But it’s a transition, too. You get a new coach; you do things a little differently.

VRENTAS: You mentioned paying attention to only one team’s draft this year. What did you think of the Giants’ picks?

MANNING: I liked the Giants draft. I really did. They got some good, athletic players. Of course, they were busy in the offseason trying to shore up their defense, and then just watching the draft from afar, I know their first-round pick, Eli Apple, is a good athlete and was a good player there at OSU. And their second-round pick, I immediately got about six emails or text messages from friends of mine that are associated with Oklahoma, including Bob Stoops and Joe Castiglione, the athletic director, about what a good player and a great kid Sterling Shepard is. So that’s always good.

VRENTAS: You may have some competition for go-to NFL parent in the New York market. What do you think of new media darling Annie Apple, Eli Apple’s mom?

MANNING: Well, she sounds like a real cute lady to me. I thought her comments were really cute and kind of refreshing. He seems like a fine young man from a nice family. He’s from New Jersey, too, so I think he’s gonna fit in real fine. Olivia and I will look forward to meeting Ms. Apple. Olivia doesn’t do Twitter, but they’ll meet once the season starts.

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VRENTAS: How many more Giants games will you be at this fall?

MANNING: We probably will be at a few more than last year. We tried to go to the same number [between our sons], but Olivia has always said, Eli would never know; Peyton would keep up. But on the other hand, depending on what Peyton is doing, we like to see our grandkids. So we’ll be trying to see that Denver family also in different ways.

VRENTAS: How many times have you been asked in the past two months, Is there any chance Peyton gets the itch to come back?

MANNING: I have had some speaking engagements, and you get to the Q&A, and the most asked question is, Has he decided what he is going to do? I say, well, it has just been two months; let him take a little time. But yeah, I do get asked if he will come back. But he won’t. He won’t. He’s done. He’s 40 years old, and I think he kind of knows the NFL is probably not the place for 40 year olds.

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