Peyton Manning Always Wanted Sean Payton To Be The Denver Broncos Head Coach

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THIBODAUX, La. — Before Sean Payton flashed that orange tie clue on FOX’s pregame show last Jan. 29 that he would be Denver’s next coach officially within a week, Peyton Manning knew.

“Yeah, I might have, kind of known a little bit what was going on,” Manning said with a wink as laughter broke at the Manning Passing Academy Media Day Friday at Nicholls State University.

Manning lives in Denver, where he ended his Pro Football Hall of Fame career with a Super Bowl 50 victory over Carolina in Santa Clara, California, in the 2015 season.

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“I’ve gotten to be friends with the new ownership and tried to be a resource to the Broncos, just like I am with the Colts,” he said.

Manning also won a Super Bowl with Indianapolis in the 2007 season. Walmart heir Rob Walton paid $4.65 billion for the Broncos last year.

“The Walton family and George Paton (Denver general manager) and I have a good relationship,” Peyton said. “So, yeah, I certainly was all in on Sean.”

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Payton and Peyton played golf last year with Cooper and Eli Manning.

“It was funny. We were just kind of talking, and then eight months later he’s the head coach of the Broncos,” Manning said.

Former Denver and Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning talking with reporters at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, Louisiana, on Friday. (Photo By OutKick’s Glenn Guilbeau)

Manning noticed then Payton wanted to coach again soon. Payton “retired” from coaching after the 2021 season with the New Orleans Saints, where he had been coach since 2006. Payton led New Orleans to a Super Bowl XLIV victory over Manning and Indianapolis in the 2009 season. He also reached NFC title games in the 2006 and ’18 seasons. He won four straight NFC South titles from 2017-20.


“I could tell he wanted to get back in it,” Manning said. “I could tell he was looking for a committed organization and ownership that gave him the great support that he got here in New Orleans from the Benson family. I think he definitely found that with the Broncos’ new ownership. They’re going to give him what he needs and what he wants. The thing about Sean is that he knows exactly what he wants and needs. I mean he knows the kind of tight end he wants, and what he’s looking for in that left guard.”

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Payton has added five major acquisitions in the off-season – defensive end Zach Allen, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, offensive guard Ben Powers, running back Samaje Perine and backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

“Kind of excited about the players that the Broncos brought in,” Manning said.

Payton will have a difficult job. Denver last had a winning season in 2015 when Manning helped lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl title. Payton is Denver’s fourth coach since then. But Manning sees it happening before too long.

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“You can hear Bill Parcells coming out of his voice,” he said. “I know you guys are hearing that. I’ve had several visits with Sean. I was out at practice the other day. We had dinner not too long ago. Talked about playing golf. Everybody’s real excited. I’ve seen several players around town. I can tell they’re excited.”

Denver gave Payton one of the most lucrative coaching contracts in NFL history – $18 million over five years.

“Just the coaching that they’re getting, the intensity, the discipline, I believe you’re going to see all that on the field this year,” Manning said. “First year, got a tough division. But I think all Broncos fans and players are really excited to have Sean.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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