Peyton Manning Once Wanted to Quit Against the Patriots Because They Were Beating Him So Badly
Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knows the ins and outs of bringing up a quarterback. He literally wrote a book about it.
Back in the late 90’s, serving as the Indianapolis Colts quarterback coach, Arians recalled a story about a young Peyton Manning not wanting to re-enter a game against the New England Patriots because they were getting beaten so badly.
During a 1999 game against the Patriots, the Colts trailed badly. “Midway through the fourth quarter of the game, with the outcome already decided, Peyton was so frustrated that he asked for mercy,” Arians writes. “He wanted to be pulled from the game.”
Arians wasn’t having it.
‘”F–k no, get back in there,’ I told him,” Arians explains. “‘We’ll go no-huddle and maybe you’ll learn something. You can never ask to come out. You’re our leader. Act like it.’”`
Arians then describes what happened next as a “sight to behold,” with Manning leading a late drive that ended in a touchdown pass. Arians saw the drive give Manning a “shot of confidence.”
Before the rematch later that year, with the pre-Belichick Patriots having beaten Manning three straight times, Arians noticed before the game that Manning “had a frowning, contorted face” and that “he looked like he really needed to go to the bathroom.” Arians continued to sense that Manning was uptight about facing New England again, so Arians said to him, “‘Peyton, your footwork is all messed up. . . . What’s wrong with you, man?’”
Arians says that Manning’s footwork actually was fine, but in the process of focusing on working on his footwork after Arians called him out, Manning’s anxiety disappeared. The Colts won the game. Arians calls that moment before the game as a “turning point” in their relationship, one in which Arians pushed the right “psychological button.”
The rest is history.