Bruce Arians was Peyton Manning’s first quarterbacks coach in the NFL, and he practiced a little tough love with the No. 1 pick very early in his career.
Arians, now the Arizona Cardinals head coach, has a book coming out next week titled, “The Quarterback Whisperer.” We’re guessing there will be plenty of good stories from throughout the coach’s journeyman career, and Pro Football Talk recently shared one of those stories which might interest New England Patriots fans.
According to Arians, his tale involving Manning happened in 1999, but a quick look at the game logs seems to indicate it all went down during a Sept. 13, 1998 game between the Patriots and Colts at Foxboro Stadium — before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady even got to New England.
Manning was making just the second start of his career in a bumpy rookie season that would see the Colts go 1-15. Indy trailed the Patriots 29-0 late in the game, and according to Arians, Manning wanted out.
“Midway through the fourth quarter of the game, with the outcome already decided, Peyton was so frustrated that he asked for mercy,” Arians wrote in his upcoming book, per PFT. “He wanted to be pulled from the game.
“‘F— no, get back in there,’ I told him. We’ll go no-huddle, maybe you’ll learn something. You can never ask to come out. You’re our leader. Act like it.”
To his credit, Manning responded well to the critique. He marched the Colts down the field to score a garbage-time touchdown for a little spark of confidence.
The two teams met again later that year, and Arians writes about a look on Manning’s face the coach describes as a “frowning, contorted face” that “looked like he really needed to go to the bathroom.”
Arians, according to himself, eventually got Manning heading in the right direction, and while the Colts also lost the rematch, Manning did play better.
Oh, and if the description of that “frowning, contorted face” sounds familiar, well …
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images