Peyton Manning Could’ve Returned to NFL in 2016

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Peyton Manning went out on top, retiring from the NFL after helping the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50 after the 2015 season. Manning retired shortly after the ceremonies died down, and he’s been tied to everything from running for political offices to owning the Colts since he stepped down.

    But if one NFL head coach had had his way, Manning would’ve come out of retirement late in the 2016 regular season to play football again.

    According to an interview with John Katzenstein of Nola.com, Archie Manning, Peyton’s father, claimed Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase contacted Peyton late in the season to see if he would return to replace injured Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

    “It started with Gase,” Archie Manning stated. “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?'”

    Peyton’s reply was nothing short of priceless.

    “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,'” Archie relayed. “So, he was done.”

    Gase was Peyton’s offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos from 2013-14 and has been the head coach of the Dolphins since 2016. Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury in Week 14 of the regular season and would miss the remaining three regular season games. Instead of replacing him with Manning, Gase would replace Tannehill with Matt Moore who would go 2-1 in the final three weeks and even performed well in in the Dolphins’ loss to Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

    Peyton hasn’t avoided football since retiring. In fact, Manning attended several games last season, but only as a spectator. Manning went to several Broncos games, attended a few New York Giants games to see his brother Eli play, and he made it to three Vols games as well. But Manning still doesn’t have the itch to return one year after hanging up his cleats.

    “I did not miss it like a lot of people told me that I would,” Peyton stated. “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.”

    And according to Manning, he isn’t the only legendary player to recently retire who thinks the same way.

    “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,” Manning said. “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.”

    Manning retired a two-time Super Bowl champion, five-time NFL MVP, 14-time Pro Bowler, two-time Offensive Player of the Year, and a seven-time First Team All-Pro selection. Manning threw for 71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns, and 251 interceptions in 9,380 career pass attempts. Manning’s last ever completed pass in the NFL was a completed two-point conversion to seal Denver’s victory in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.