Peyton Manning has spent his career confusing defenses with audibles and other pre-snap adjustments. Now, these calls will benefit those nowhere near the field.
During the Denver Broncos' divisional-round win over the San Diego Chargers, viewers likely heard the All-Pro quarterback saying one word—"Omaha"—quite a bit. NFL.com captured every instance of him yelling it, totaling 44 occurrences.
It is unknown if Manning planned to bring attention to the city in Nebraska, but he certainly did.
The good news is that Omaha decided to give back. Five companies based in the city originally elected to donate $500 combined every time he said "Omaha" during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots, according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt. The proceeds would go to Manning's PeyBack Foundation.
What started as a curiosity is now actually helping at-risk youth, something that Manning has worked hard to do over the years. As you can see in the video below, he didn't hold back against the Patriots.
Following the game, ESPN's Darren Rovell reported how much money Manning raised for charity during the Broncos' 26-16 victory. As it turns out, a few more businesses jumped on board:
Not only is Peyton Manning heading to his third Super Bowl, he made $24,800 for his charity during the AFC Championship Game.
Eight businesses will donate the money to Manning's Peyback Foundation after they committed to donate a combined $800 for each time he said the word "Omaha" at the line of scrimmage. Manning said "Omaha" 31 times during Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.
The publicity craze surrounding Manning's use of "Omaha" heightened when the city's official tourism account posted this tweet:
It escalated when locals decided to create this shirt to embrace the newfound popularity, courtesy of ESPN:
T-Shirts seen at Mayor Jean Stothert's office in Omaha, NE. See more on Sunday Countdown, 12pm ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/PxmbV2x3ia— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 16, 2014
So, what does the term mean on the field? Manning explained that it could mean many different things in an interview during the week.
Of course, he is not going to give away a secret that helped the Broncos reach the Super Bowl.
The Patriots did not even attempt to figure out the meaning behind Manning's phrases. Zuri Berry of The Boston Globe asked players how they would react to the constant movement before the snap, and many simply stated they would just worry about doing their job.
Rookie defensive tackle Joe Vellano explained:
You think you know what he’s calling, and then he’s gonna switch it on you. So I don’t try to get too crazy with his stuff at the line, because there really is so much of it, it’s hard to track. It’s tough to even get a beat on it.
It’s tough to really get a beat on all that. But you gotta really make sure you know your assignment, make sure you’re in your alignment and just be really consistent. Don’t let all that stuff get to you. Because it’s going to slow you down more than it’s going to help you. And when you get in the game, and you have so many different [situations], it’s hard to really go 100 percent on something like that.
So Manning can use his audibles to stay ahead of defenses, the city of Omaha gains more publicity and the PeyBack Foundation receives funding. Everybody is happy.
Well, everyone except the Patriots, who struggled to slow down a quarterback who is having statistically the best season in NFL history. Manning finished the year with new records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) and is the favorite to win the league's MVP award.
During Sunday's game, he went 32-of-43 for 400 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. New England held him in check in a Week 12 overtime win, but it was unable to do it again with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Despite the final score, there are certainly some very happy kids in Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana and Colorado, where the foundation has centers. This makes the scenario a victory for everyone involved.
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