By Caleb Hanie
I grew up watching Peyton Manning. So, when I signed with the Denver Broncos in 2012 to be one of Peyton’s backups, I was eager to meet him and see what he was really like. My first day around #18 started off in the weight room. I quickly realized that he was relentless. During our first few sets on our first exercise in the Broncos weight room, he started yelling for some footballs. The assistant strength coaches, and whatever intern was standing around, looked at each other like, “Footballs? Did you get some footballs? Were we SUPPOSED to get footballs?” Nevertheless, Peyton wasn’t kidding around, so the intern sprinted over to the equipment room frantically looking for footballs. He came back minutes later catching his breath with an entire bag of balls. It was a great moment to see those guys get all flustered, and you can believe we ragged them. I had no idea what the heck the footballs were for either, but I played it cool. I found out quickly that Peyton wanted to do ball handling drills between every set. It was as though standing around between sets to catch your breath was wasting time. I was like, “Is this dude for real?” But I was also thinking, “So this is what it takes, huh? I’m in.”
Peyton definitely lived up to the work ethic that proceeded him. I was curious if he would live up to his famous sense of humor. He didn’t disappoint with a beautiful and hilarious joke on day one that I think included Barbara Streisand. Those who were there will know what I’m talking about, and we will keep it that way today. The next day the backup QBs and I were sitting with our quarterback coach, Adam Gase. “Goose,” as most called him, was one of the most casual guys you’ll meet, and he didn’t care about much of anything when it came to how we dressed for practice or workouts. So, it shocked us when he spoke up and said, “So…y’all need to have your shirts tucked in for workouts from now on.” We kind of chuckled, and then looked at Goose like, “wait…you’re serious?” He proceeded to tell us that Peyton wanted it that way. It seemed as though he was taking the same approach as us…”this dude’s a Hall of Famer, I’m listening to him.” Knowing Peyton like I do, he was totally serious as he is old school (plus he was Mr. Tucked-In Shirt, always.) But, I feel like he was also having fun with Goose with a “you need to keep control over your room” type of jab. All jokes aside, we showed up to workouts the next day with our shirts tucked in.