Peyton Manning: Why Did Free-Agent QB Decline Visit with Kansas City Chiefs?

Derek EstesCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 11:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on from the sidelines during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs fans felt their pipe dream spring a leak Sunday night when reports emerged that Peyton Manning declined to visit the team on his free-agency tour.

Clark Hunt, the team's CEO, announced last week that the Chiefs would be pursuing the future Hall of Famer after his release from the Indianapolis Colts. Coupled with a solid receiver corps, offensive playmakers coming off injury and a stout defense, Manning and some offensive line help would catapult the Chiefs into AFC West favorites.

Instead, Manning continues making his stops to other teams. After visiting Denver and Arizona, Manning is apparently headed for Tennessee later this week.

All of this begs one big question: Why?

Why did Manning decide not to even pay the Chiefs a visit? Kansas City might not have a receiver of Larry Fitzgerald's caliber or a defense quite on par with Denver's. But the Chiefs come close to each of those other teams' strong suits. Kansas City's defense will improve drastically with Eric Berry back from injury, their receiver corps is one of the deepest in the league and Jamaal Charles will flat out-perform over Chris Johnson this year.

A saying from Sherlock Holmes is that, “When you eliminate all other possibilities, what remains, no matter how improbable, is the answer.” So if the Chiefs have better across-the-board talent, a stellar fan base and at least slightly better weather than Denver, what's left?

The improbable answer is that Manning doesn't want to be involved with the reported negative atmosphere at 1 Arrowhead Drive.

To most fans, the Kansas City Star article that alleged "intimidation and secrecy are among the Chiefs’ principal management styles" has long since faded off, buried in reports of mock drafts, free-agent signings and Greg Williams' bounty program. Todd Haley's fears of bugged phones and monitored conversations faded into an unpleasant footnote in one of the NFL's most exciting off-seasons.

But no one wants to work in an unpleasant environment, especially not when he doesn't need the money and is looking for a place to enjoy the end of his career.

This could be one of the most overlooked factors in Kansas City's free-agency moves. GM Scott Pioli claims the Chiefs will be very active in this year's market. Their involvement will be entirely dependent on who's willing to come play for this team.

And that could haunt the Chiefs this week as free agency kicks off; what did Manning see that turned him off to Kansas City, and is it going to keep other quality talent away?

The general public will probably never know the real answer to that question. The Chiefs could go on to land a great free-agent class, with Manning simply not interested in Kansas City.

But if the Chiefs find themselves struggling to sign quality players in what should be a precursor to a legitimate playoff run, fans will have to ask themselves what turned players off to their team and what needs to be done to fix it.