Now that everyone in Kansas City is just about done playing "will he or won’t he?" since it seems quite clear that Peyton Manning is interested in everyone else but the Chiefs, we can begin to look at the entire affair and wonder something else: what what that all about? From the lack of interest from Peyton to the public display of interest from the team, the entire thing has been a bit of a head-scratcher.
Recently the Houston Texans became the next team to show some interest and generate some headlines. This follows the Tennessee Titans which followed the Arizona Cardinals which followed the Denver Broncos which… you get the point. One team after another has come out of the woodwork to chase a quarterback, the Texans being the latest.
The interest is completely understandable since so many teams have needs at the position or look mediocre at best. It’s not every day that an elite, future Hall of Famer makes a tour across the States for his next destination. But Mike Florio points something out with this latest public flirtation that might get to the heart of some teams.
"Previously, the Texans had said they have no interest in Manning," Florio writes. "Their interest possibly has been sparked by the Titans’ interest. If nothing else, the Texans need to make it look like they tried to get Peyton, in the event he ends up with the Titans and lead them to the AFC South title."
It’s that last line that piqued my interest. Did the Chiefs pull the same move? Did the team try to get in on the Peyton bandwagon in the hopes of making up some good will from fans frustrated by a season in which the team didn’t spend the money it could have last season?
If the perception is that the team is not doing enough to win, then going after the top free agent on the market is the way to silence your doubters. Whether you are serious or not, the posture of public interest can be a real boom to the fan base. Is this why the Chiefs were so uncharacteristically forward about Manning?
Everyone assumed that when head coach Romeo Crennel came right out at the NFL Combine and declared that he would be "crazy" not to consider Manning if he was available, that it was a slip up. Some articles even popped up wondering if the team could be guilty of "tampering." Clark Hunt comes out later and says that the team is definitely interested in Manning, in much the same way Bud Adams just did of the Titans. Both moves are not what we have come to expect from Arrowhead.
For such a clamped down organization that led to the "Arrowhead Anxiety" drama surrounding Kent Babb’s piece at the Star describing the allegedly paranoid atmosphere, both instances seem rather like Jim Irsay or Rex Ryan. The Chiefs aren’t affable in public. The team isn’t accessible. Everything is on lockdown — except for Manning.
So either the team has been this forward because they want you, dear fan, to know that they are interested in Manning or they sincerely wanted Peyton to know. Perhaps the furor over Peyton was so great that the front office had to break the typical radio silence to declare their love since they weren’t getting messages returned. No one will know for certain, and perhaps it’s a bit of both, but it’s interesting all the same to watch a team act uncharacteristically.
If the Peyton saga somehow drags on longer than anyone could have predicted and Manning eventually makes his way on the Chiefs roster through some miracle of Pioli’s, then we will all look back and realize the team was doing everything it could to sway Manning — including breaking protocols. But if things play out the way it looks, which includes Manning heading to the Chiefs biggest rival, then the entire act might have been a publicity stunt in the first place.
It also appears that the Chiefs are not the only team in on the act.
Check out more about the Chiefs' chase of Peyton Manning over at Arrowhead Pride.