Peyton Manning Was So Paranoid About Facing the Patriots He Once Held a Walkthrough in a Forest

(Cued up to the 29:13 mark)

This is yesterday's live feed from Denver Bronco's camp. It's hosted by Steve Atwater with guest Orlando Scandrick, who told this epic tale of his time with Peyton Manning, and his rampant, debilitating paranoia when it came to facing New England:

Source - Former Broncos offensive lineman Orlando Franklin recalls Manning’s paranoia when it came to going over the game plan, via the team’s official YouTube:

“He was a stickler on that. He didn’t want anybody to see any plays so everything we did was really top secret,” Franklin said.

Franklin added that there was a time in 2013 where Manning conducted walkthroughs in the middle of a forest before playing the New England Patriots.

“We went and got on the buses and pulled up to the forest. Got out of the buses and walked for about five minutes and then we get in the middle of this forest and that’s where we did the walkthrough.”

The fact that the Broncos were preparing to take on Manning’s old rivals in the Patriots only upped the ante. It was clear that the future Hall of Famer was not going to give them any type of edge following his days with the Indianapolis Colts.

Allow me to respond to this in the best non-verbal way I can think of:

I just can't even. Holy smokes, I hope Bill Belichick didn't have to pay property taxes on the real estate he owned in Manning's head. Heading deep into the forest primeval to run through plays among the murmuring pines and the hemlocks is some of the most deranged behavior imaginable. Going into the woods to do your business is the stuff of serial killers, weirdo sex cults and militias trying to hide out from the government, not football teams. I mean, if a guy you work with says you need to follow him into the woods, there's a better chance you're going to find a clearing containing a pentagram with a goat head in the center and wind up being sacrificed to Lucifer than you're going to work on route combinations and "Omaha!" calls. 

But that's what getting beaten by the Patriots all those times did to Manning. It's what playing for the Colts did to him. It was Tony Dungy, conducting meetings in under the stands in Gillette because he thought the visitor's locker room was bugged. Or sending team assistants dumpster diving through the trash like raccoons looking for any stray discarded piece of paper that the Pats could use to their advantage. And it's only natural Manning would carry that derangement with him to Denver, convinced the Broncos' hotel was under surveillance or their bus had hidden cameras on board or something. Hell, for all he knew, Ernie Adams was in a hide up in that forest, hunting Manning like deer with a camera, with a zoom lens instead of a rifle scope. 

And Ernie may have, because a fat lot of good all that extreme, insane precaution did Manning or the Broncos. They played in Week 12 of 2013. The instant legend "We'll Take the Wind" Game. When the Broncos took a 24-0 lead into halftime, the Patriots came back with the next 28 points in a row, and in overtime, New England won the toss, elected to kick, and on the fourth possession, won it on a field goal. Manning's numbers in those 73 minutes of playing time explain he had every reason to be freaked out enough to scamper off into the woodlands for his walkthrough:

19 for 36, 52.8%, 150 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 70.4 passer rating

Still better than some of his worst games against Belichick defenses, like his 4 INTs, 35.5 playoff game in 2003 when he completed as many passes (three) to Ty Law as he did to Marvin Harrison, and Law gained more yards. Or his 0 TD, 1 INT stinkbomb that produced three points the following playoffs. But nevertheless, it proved that we wasn't wrong to go full Blair Witch on the way to Foxboro. I guess he just needed a deeper forest.