Facing Manning painful reminder of QB Titans lost
Tennessee has no time to think about what could have or would
have been if Peyton Manning had chosen to be a Titan in March
They’re too busy preparing to defend him once again.
This week provides a painful reminder of what might have been if
the Titans had been able to successfully sign Peyton the free
agent. At their owner’s bidding, they wooed the four-time NFL MVP
hard with a Hall of Fame offensive lineman as head coach leading
the way only to lose out to Denver and another Hall of Famer in
Coach Mike Munchak recalls the chase as exciting and thinks the
Titans were right there with the Broncos at the end. Munchak says
they knew Manning makes people around him better and wins, which is
why owner Bud Adams, who died in October, wanted the quarterback so
”Obviously, it’s worked out well for him, but it just shows
what difference he can make on the team he’s on,” Munchak
What a difference indeed.
The Broncos (10-2) are atop the AFC chasing home-field advantage
after going 13-3 in Manning’s first season.
The Titans (5-7) are struggling – again – to put together wins
and starting a third different quarterback since missing out on
Manning. They started both Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck going
6-10 last season, and now it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback with
Locker out for the rest of this season with an injured right
Manning is having one of his best seasons yet with 41 touchdown
passes already and 4,125 yards and a 115.3 passer rating. In 12
games, Manning has only nine interceptions while Fitzpatrick has
been picked off seven times in his five starts and seven
Munchak spent hours breaking down film with Manning, and the
Titans worked the quarterback out in Knoxville in a session moved
away from reporters.
”He’s special,” Munchak said. ”There’s not many guys like him
around. You can see that when you spend time with him.”
Manning wouldn’t indicate how close the Titans came in losing
out to Denver on Wednesday in a conference call with Tennessee
reporters. He didn’t want to go back down memory lane during a game
week, but Manning called it a whirlwind process with the Titans
first-class with him, which included a couple conversations with
He compared the decision to the challenge of picking a college.
But this recruitment could not have been more public or in a short
period of time.
”I enjoyed the time that I spent with the Titans’
organization,” Manning said. ”Obviously, I had to pick one place.
You can only go to one place, and I picked Denver. I’ve worked hard
every day to try and make it a good choice.”
Not everyone was so eager to see Manning land in Tennessee.
Receiver Nate Washington said he felt very confident in Locker
going into his second season, so he tried to keep his quarterback’s
confidence up by texting regularly. Washington is not among those
thinking of what might be different if Manning picked Titans’
”The reality of it is we don’t have him, we didn’t have him at
the time, we don’t have him now,” Washington said. ”As great as
it would be to imagine a situation like that, this is real
Cornerback Jason McCourty thinks it was good the Titans were in
the chase. He would not have minded picking Manning’s brain to see
how the quarterback dissects a defense before, during and after a
snap or the challenge of practicing against him daily.
”But we didn’t get that opportunity,” McCourty said.
Notes: TE Delanie Walker and Craig Stevens (concussions) did not
practice, though Stevens did some running on a side field
Wednesday. RT David Stewart (shoulder) also did not practice along
with P Brett Kern (sore back). WR Kendall Wright (ankle) was
limited, and WR Damian Williams (hip) was limited in his return
after missing three games.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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