April 12, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Peyton Manning returned to Knoxville on Thursday spending time with the coaching staff and the 2013 Vols as he was the featured speaker at the UT Coaches Clinic on Friday.
Here is what he said to the media in Knoxville:
Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones
"This gentleman doesn't need any introduction. I tell you what, what a great couple days and welcome back one of the all-time greats. We started last night and we went from about 7 o'clock to about 11:30 at night. He came in and he spoke with the staff and we talked football. It has been a great experience. Then today we had a team meeting and Peyton addressed our football team. Not only on his views and his beliefs in the game and how you live your life and how you excel at the highest level but also what it meant to be Vol. Then we opened it up for questions and I wanted to kind of gauge our players by the type of questions they asked Peyton. Very pleased with questions.
"Obviously for him to come back and speak at our coaches clinic, it is one of the highest attended coaches clinics that we have had in a number of years. I think that is a tribute to him and what he stands for. This is a great way to say thank you to him and just because he means so much to us and our football program, recruiting and everything we are doing here as we are laying it brick by brick. So I just want publicly thank Peyton, we love him and we are very proud of him. So I will let him address you. Thank you."
Tennessee Legend Peyton Manning
(Opening Statement) "It is great to be here. Like Coach Jones said, I got here last night, we talked ball all night last night and I have had a great visit with the high school coaches today. I have a great passion and respect for high school coaches. I am still really tight with my high school coach and they had some really great questions as well. So it has really been a fun couple of days talking football with some different coaches."
(On trying to convey accountability and being a playmaker to the current players) "Certainly. The players this year just have a great opportunity to kind of create their own legacy and to be part of a turnaround here at Tennessee. We all know the past few years haven't been the most fun for the Tennessee football family and Coach Jones is determined to turn that around. I believe that he will turn that around. I really enjoyed talking football and philosophy with him last night. I was really impressed with his staff and their philosophy. It was a really impressive group of men that I got the chance to address, like Coach Jones said, they had some great questions about what they can do to be better and how they can create their own legacy and be part of a turnaround here in Knoxville. So I really enjoyed the time."
(On Butch Jones' energy for Tennessee Football) "This is the first time that we had the chance to see face to face. We had spoken on the phone prior to that. I got over here about 7:30 and sat in his office for probably an hour, just kind of getting a feel of his philosophies on coaching, on offense, defense and special teams, how to run a program. I was impressed. I think he has a plan, he has a mission, there is no question. He has a short term plan and a long term plan. It made a lot of sense to me. Then getting with his staff, I can tell he selected these coaches very carefully and for a specific reason. They all bring something to the table. I think it is an exciting time for Tennessee football. I think people need to stay committed to it and stay patient with it. It doesn't happen overnight. I sure liked what I heard these past two days."
(On his contribution to the Pat Summitt Foundation) "Pat Summitt has been a great friend, mentor, and kind of confidant for me. She was one of the first people that I addressed when I was a junior when I was deciding to stay for my senior year or to turn pro. My dad, I remember, recommended her, said, `you `ought to go talk to Pat Summitt.' She is a great sounding board. We have maintained a great relationship since. I have been to a few of the final fours that she has been in since I have been in pro ball. I see Tamika Catchings in Indianapolis. I know the huge impact she has been on all of her players. I never played for her but I just have such great respect for her as a coach. Pat is fighting the fight and has a whole new challenge and I am just proud of her for stepping out in front of this challenge and this disease. I just wanted to make a contribution to help her and I believe in her. I do believe that with Pat Summitt out in front leading any type of game plan, a basketball game, a fight against a terrible disease, I know she will win. I wanted to help her and support her in that."
(On training recently with Coach Cutcliffe) "Last year, it was such a unique situation. I reached a point in my rehab that a trainer or a doctor couldn't really help anymore. Ice wasn't going to help me anymore. I really needed to work with a quarterback coach again to get my arm, my feet, really learn the fundamentals of being a quarterback again. Not playing for a year and my injury really caused some issues with my arm and my ability to throw the ball. Who better to go to than somebody who has seen me throw probably second to my dad as far as how many times he has seen me throw. Coach Cutcliffe invited me down there and we started from the ground up and the fundamentals and really kind of got my confidence back as a passer. It made a huge difference for me. This year with the new NFL rules, they have certain restrictions; you aren't allowed to throw at the facility until April 15. It is really almost college like rules. It made a difference, last year I thought my fundamentals and mechanics were really solid last year. Of course Eli has been there a couple of times as well, Eli and I got together and said, `why don't you get three guys and I will get three guys and lets go see Cutcliffe and have him coach us again.' Kind of like a golfer going to see an old swing coach. Coach Cutcliffe was at Ole Miss after I left and I would see him down there so I have always stayed close and I have sent him videos and asked him for ideas. He has always been my longest passing coach if you will. I think as an older player it is just a great reminder of doing the fundamentals and techniques. The video I was showing today to the coaches, I was showing them some video from 1994 some of the same drills I did in 1994 with Cutcliffe, I am still doing today in Denver. The shorts I was wearing were almost illegal in 1994 and Cutcliffe's were worse. But my point is, I was telling the high school coaches and Coach Jones' staff, if you have a good drill, a fundamental, or mechanic, do it all the time. It doesn't matter where you are playing. It has really been good work and I appreciate Coach Cutcliffe taking the time."
(On his strength since surgery) "I still have certain challenges dealing with nerves. I learned it's a patience deal. It may be a year or two years or it may never come back. I'm kind of hopeful that I wish certain things would come back more but I have learned to adjust and compensate in the state that I am. I still would like to make more improvement. I still work at it. But obviously, I can perform at status quo. I still have hopes and am determined to try to seek some more improvement. I'm certainly better than I was last year, but I'm still not quite where I was right before I was injured."
(On getting settled in as a Denver Bronco) "I think it takes time. Fourteen years in one place, you just can't duplicate that. It was fun getting back on the field playing last year. We start the off season program Monday, the 15th, and I'll certainly be more comfortable this year than I was last year and have a better feel for the culture, the offense and my new teammates. Experience is your best teacher and I don't have 14 years to establish that, certainly in Denver. But I definitely feel more comfortable this second year."
(On Butch Jones) "I think he's got it all mapped out. I like his slogans, his philosophy and the things he believes in. He's really preaching accountability to his players. It seems like the players have really bought in. I know he's been here a short period of time. This is just spring practice. We have training camp and haven't even played a game yet. But I really like what he's saying and how he sounded on the phone. He's really excited. I think the most inspiring thing is how excited he is to be here. This is the job he wanted and this is where he wants to stay and retire. Those are the kind of people we want here at Tennessee. People that are all in, all in Tennessee Vol. I can tell he is that and it's really encouraging."
(On seeing Tennessee get back to where it was) "We have four on Denver and this year in the Pro Bowl we had six guys from Tennessee - Berry, Colquitt, Mayo and other guys. We certainly talk about it. Everybody pulls hard for them every Saturday. It's no fun if Champ Bailey has the upper hand on me if Georgia beats Tennessee. For so many years, we always had the upper hand. It's no question, it's been a challenge for the whole family. I commend these players for fighting through it. I told these freshmen `You owe it to these seniors to make them have the best senior year possible.' All the Tennessee Vols out there, not just the ones in the NFL, everyone wants Tennessee to get back to what they're used to seeing. This team and this era has a chance to create their own legacy here."
(On representing UT) "Tennessee had such a huge impact on my life. I had a wonderful four years here at the University of Tennessee. A big reason why I stayed here my senior year is I really wanted one more year of college experience. I enjoy coming back and seeing some of the same friends and faces that are here, whether it's Roger Frazier or Joe Harrington. Obviously there's been a lot of changes from the time since I've been gone. But it's still University of Tennessee and it's still Volunteer pride and I'm a huge fan of those."
(On the departure of Elvis Dumervil from the Broncos) "I think it's an exciting time for Robert (Ayers). I know the coaches are excited for what he can do. I know they're going to challenge him to step up and answer the bell on that. I believe Robert can do it. It's definitely an exciting year for him."
(On talking to Butch Jones about taking the Colorado job) "My boss, John Elway, had a good friend who was leading the Colorado search. He asked me if I would talk to this coach about coming to Colorado. At the time, Butch Jones hadn't been contacted by Tennessee. I didn't really know much about him either. When the boss asks you to make a phone call, you have to make a phone call. I said `I don't know anything about Colorado.' And he said `You tell him that this is a good place to play football and it's a nice place to live.' I said `I can do that.' I don't know anything else about the University of Colorado so that's what I did. It may have caused some confusion that I was recruiting a guy to come to Colorado. I recruit for one school and one school only, the University of Tennessee. I was doing a favor for Elway and my boss. Once, obviously Butch was in consideration for the University of Tennessee, I really feel we got lucky. I know we had some other people that didn't quite work out that we were interviewing first. I really feel we were fortunate to land Butch Jones. I really do. I think he's going to be a huge difference for this program and I think we're fortunate to have him. I'm glad you asked me that because I'm a Tennessee Vol all the way, I can assure you."