DENVER (KDVR) — The similarities are striking—two guys who spent 11 years building their brand elsewhere coming to Denver for their last four seasons.
“I was nervous,” said Peyton Manning. “I didn’t know how it was going to play out.”
John Lynch was equally uneasy about leaving Tampa, but after Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan told him that he was going to be a perfect fit, it gave him new life.
“It does reignite you. You try to keep from getting into a comfort zone, but it happens and the change kinds of wakes up your senses.”
Their playing time in Denver didn’t intersect, but their time in the NFL did, and they developed a long-standing friendship at the Pro Bowl where both were yearly participants.
“I think our wives would tell you about how tired they got sitting around and listening to us talk about football,” remembers Lynch. “We would sit for hours drinking Mai Tais and talking football as we shared our love for the game.”
Who picked up the tab for these gabfests?
“We would always put it on the tab of a rookie making his first trip to the Pro Bowl,” said Manning. “We would get his room number and charge him…all those Mai Tais were bought by a Brian Moorman, a kicker from Buffalo.”
It’s interesting how both have accomplished so much in the game, but it’s not the wins or losses, or even the rings won that endure. Instead, it’s the friendships formed in pursuit of a common goal. Lynch remembers just coming into the league, showing up early to the stadium with his wife where, together, they would run steps before practice started. He understood the rare opportunity he had.
It was no different for Manning.
“This wasn’t the kind of journey you’d want to make alone. To be able to share this with my family, teammates, coaches …that’s what it means to me. How lucky I was to play the game for so long and got to meet so many great people,” said Manning.