ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It was one of those stories that became a defining piece of Peyton Manning’s legacy. One of those things that made you understand what made Peyton Manning different. An anecdote the illustrated the perfectionist he really was.
The infamous locker notes.
As the tale goes, if he was unhappy with something a player did in practice, whether it be running a route wrong or simply not practicing hard enough, the surefire Hall of Famer would leave a note in their locker about it. A not-so-subtle way of saying, “get it together.”
And while those notes have become a key piece of Manning folklore, especially in Denver, it’s nowhere near as good as what new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio once left in the locker of Manning himself.
To start, you may be surprised to know that Manning and Fangio go way back, all the way back to Fangio’s days in New Orleans, when Peyton’s dad, Archie, was the team’s radio announcer and a young Peyton would work out at the team facility.
The relationship got another chapter when Manning went up against Fangio’s Carolina defense during his rookie year in Indianapolis.
“Not a great game,” Manning told a small group of reporters during a visit to the UC Health Training Center on Thursday. “It was the last game of a pretty miserable season. We were 3-13.. I think there wasn’t much time left in the game, but I think we might have had a chance to get back in it. I was actually trying to throw the ball away, and I didn’t throw it high enough, and Eric Davis intercepted it. It was a fitting ending to a pretty miserable season.”
So you know, after checking the play-by-play, the way Manning recalled it from more than 20 years ago is exactly what happened. The Colts lost by eight after the interception with just under three minutes remaining.
Interestingly enough, that would be Fangio’s last regular season game in Carolina before becoming the DC in—you guessed it—Indianapolis.
“Vic is super competitive,” Peyton remembered of when he got there. “He wanted to win every practice against the offense. In his first year, we went from 3-13 to 13-3, and a lot of that had to do with Vic coming in and solidifying the defense.”
Manning then paused before delivering an epic story.
“They would have the upper hand a lot in practice,” he added. “He really could be irritating. I can’t remember what I did—seems like they held one day in practice a lot, we didn’t have refs back then, but I was probably complaining about how they were holding our receivers, and Vic put a plate of wine and cheese in my locker.”
“He didn’t say it was him, but I knew it was him,” Manning added. “I knew he had access to it.”
After some investigative work, BSN Denver can confirm it was, in fact, Fangio who left that lovely treat for the quarterback.
“That he must have really irritated me a lot because I finished 15-1 against him in my career,” Manning said with a smirk.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 15-0 after that loss in Carolina, and, yes, 15-0 after the fateful wine platter.
Luckily for Fangio, he won’t have to face Manning anymore. In fact, the NFL Legend is once again on his side.
“He hasn’t changed one bit since 1999 in Indianapolis. I think that’s what John saw; this guy’s a football coach. We need to get back to playing solid, fundamental football around here. That’s what wins games. That’s kind of been the core of what the Denver Broncos have been about and I think Vic will bring that Denver… I’m happy for him getting his opportunity to be a head coach. He has certainly paid his dues. He is all football. He is a grinder. And I think he’ll do a great job.”
Now that they’re both in Denver, maybe a couple of football guys can talk ball over, say, some wine and cheese.