The NFL will investigate the Denver Broncos after a visit to the University of Alabama by Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Adam Gase has sparked the league's attention, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com:
The NFL will have questions for the Denver Broncos about how offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterback Peyton Manning came to cross paths at the University of Alabama earlier this month, the league confirmed Friday, even though the two did not travel together and Gase was in Tuscaloosa for two days before Manning started his visit.
A coach and a player taking a campus visit together before their team starts its offseason program would be a violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement. The Broncos start their offseason program Monday.
Whether it is a punishable violation, the league said, is to be determined.
It is worth noting that Gase was reportedly in Tuscaloosa for two days before Manning even made it down there, so there is a very real chance that nothing will come of this.
While the fact that Gase and Manning were there on separate trips is certainly important, how much football was discussed on the visits and in what context also matters. If Gase had planned an X’s and O’s type gathering and asked Manning to be there, that would add another layer to the investigation.
Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t believe the Broncos broke any rules, via Mike Klis and Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post:
I'm like shocked that anybody would think someone did anything wrong on their part. I never met with Adam. When I talked with him I talked about his family. Peyton, we talked an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Adam had been talking to our assistant coaches. I never talked with Adam about football.
Interestingly, Gase got his coaching start under Saban when Saban was at Michigan State and Gase was a student there. Manning knows the Crimson Tide coach through his father Archie Manning, and Saban discussed the fact that his team could learn something from legendary No. 18, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com:
A lot of people would say, Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, from a career standpoint and about as good as anyone has been in the history of the league.
Since they're a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them, in terms of what gives them problems and what defensive teams do that give them problems. That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well.
What is of immediate interest in this story looking forward is if and when Denver will be punished, but don’t be surprised if something positive comes of this for Alabama.
Saban may have vocally opposed no-huddle offenses in the past, but he is a great coach and likely recognizes that the only way he will win more national championships is by stopping up-tempo attacks.
If a certain defensive scheme bothered Manning, one of the best quarterbacks of all time who also happens to run a no-huddle, it would likely work in the SEC as well.
Check back for more updates as they develop.