INDIANAPOLIS — Legendary Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning today sat down with Colts.com's Caroline Cann and discussed a multitude of topics prior to the annual Colts Kickoff Luncheon.
Here's the entire Q&A:
A new year, and a new era, with Frank Reich as the Colts' head coach. What was it like to work with Frank when he was with the Colts from 2006-11?
"Well, I'm excited for Frank. He deserves this opportunity. He's had a fast climb to be a head coach; he was an intern at one point with us under Coach Dungy's staff, and then when Coach Caldwell took over he became my quarterbacks coach. And I really enjoyed just communicating with Frank — obviously being a former quarterback, he and I could speak the same language. A very detail-oriented, deep thinker, and I learned a lot from him and asked him a lot of questions. And you just knew that his communication skills, his ability to relate to players, was going to serve him well. And obviously he did a great job in Philadelphia, and a great hire by Jim (Irsay) and Chris (Ballard) in bringing Frank back to the Colts."
We hear this new Colts offense under Reich is going to be fast and explosive. As a quarterback, as you're hearing those things — as Andrew Luck is hearing those things — does that just get you fired up for what it can be?
"I think it's a very quarterback-friendly offense. And the good coaches put in an offense based on what their players can handle — especially what their quarterback allows them to do. So everything is going to start with Andrew and what he brings to the table and his ability to get 'em out of bad plays, to make fast-twitch decisions. And, so, Frank knows that, so that's why it's going to be a good match. But this is what Frank has been doing his whole football career. At the Buffalo Bills, they were one of the first ones to do kind of this up-tempo, no-huddle offense; Frank, I guarantee was doing a lot of coaching as the backup to Jim Kelly, and I know he communicated the plays into Jim. He's famous for these two all-time, no-huddle comebacks in college and in the NFL. So that's what he knows, and he did a great job in Philly last year and I think it'll be an exciting offense to watch."
You, like Andrew Luck, had to miss an entire season due to injury. From that mindset, what will this year be like for him?
"Well, it's such an individual thing. I never liked it when I had injuries or was going through a certain situation when they interviewed somebody else that had been injured, and all of a sudden he was speaking for me. I always kinda like to speak for myself, and I'm sure Andrew feels the same way. I have to believe that he is at the point where he hopefully is done being asked about how he's feeling … with his shoulder. And he has earned that right. So I would imagine that he is excited to get back to playing football, and I have read a couple of his comments where he said, 'Boy, it's really fun to be back out there.' And that's how it was for me. I never felt like I took it for granted — and you're always reminded not to take it for granted — but when you do miss an entire season and you can't be out there with your teammates and you can't be out there on the field, it's kind of like all the other kids get to go play in the sandbox and you're not allowed to go; you have to stay over here in this little quarantined section. So it's good for football to see Andrew back out there, it's certainly great for Colts fans, and I'm looking forward to watching him play."
The Colts have a good amount of youth on both sides of the ball. When you were on a team with younger players, as that veteran presence, how does that relationship develop in that first, second year?
"That's what's great about football is that you have all different types of backgrounds, different age groups. I mean, you have youth, and then you've got (Adam) Vinatieri, which sort of brings that median up a little bit. Vinatieri's going to be the first guy to play with somebody's grandson, you know? You hear people, they go, 'Oh yeah, I played with your father.' No, no; (they're) gonna say, "Yeah, I played with your grandfather,' and that's going to be the first. But I think getting to know your teammates, and it doesn't matter where you came from, how old you are, we're here together on Sunday at 1 o'clock; we're all trying to achieve the same goal. And so that's what training camp is for. I like how the Colts are one of the teams that still kind of goes away, stays in a hotel that is just kind of football where you do kind of bond — that's what we always did when we went to Anderson and Terre Haute when I was here. So I think all of those things make a difference, and hopefully form a little chemistry. And I think those things can help you win a game somewhere along the way."
Now with a lot of former teammates in the coaching ranks with the Colts — guys like Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne — is it fun to catch back up with those guys and pick their brain a little bit?
"Well, it certainly is fun to see what different teammates are doing in their post-playing chapter, and I'm proud of Reggie and Robert. You know, there's certain guys that you just knew were football junkies, that loved everything about it, that easily could be coaches. And Reggie does a great job on the analyst side, as well, and he was always a cerebral player that had great physical skills, but appreciated the mental part of the game. And Robert, his story, from small-college football to being an All-Pro NFL player. So I'm happy for both of those guys, and they're both doing really well."