Examining Peyton Manning's Omaha Craze Heading into 2014 Super Bowl

Alex KayCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2014

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2014 file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning calls an audible at the line of scrimmage against the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Denver. Folks who watched the Broncos' NFL playoff win over the San Diego Chargers on television Sunday couldn't help but notice how often, and loudly, Manning used the code word
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Peyton Manning began uttering the phrase “Omaha” quite a bit during the Denver Broncos' playoff win over the San Diego Chargers. Ever since then, many fans have been downright fascinated about it and want to glean as much as they can about why the superstar quarterback uses it.

Unfortunately, the future Hall of Famer gave away nothing when he finally elected to clue his loyal followers into the meaning of the audible shout. Manning told John Breech of CBS Sports:

I know a lot of people ask what Omaha means...Omaha is a run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass, depending on a couple things: which way we're going, the quarter, and the jerseys that we're wearing. It varies, really, from play to play. So, there's your answer to that one.

Manning might have told the truth at some point during that explanation, but it was so convoluted and confusing that not even the Seattle Seahawks—Denver’s opponent in the Super Bowl—will bother trying to make sense of it.

Despite the lack of meaning, fans went absolutely wild with Manning’s “Omaha” call. Here are some of the best and worst moments from the “Omaha” craze leading up to Sunday’s big game.

Charity Involved

Doug Benc/Associated Press

Realizing that the craze surrounding an audible call had reached a fever pitch, a few sponsors wisely decided to turn this into a public relations opportunity.

Every time the 37-year-old said “Omaha” during the AFC Championship Game, eight businesses combined to donate more than $800 to Manning’s Peyback Foundation, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

Forbes / Associated Press

The companies collected nearly $25,000 on the day and hope to increase that payout on Sunday, as Manning will generate around $1,500 per use of his famous audible call.

You Can Bet It

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

As per Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal, bookmakers in Las Vegas have set a line at how many times Manning will yell out “Omaha” in New Jersey this Sunday.

The total is set at 27.5, with gamblers able to pick the over or under.

It looks like over is the way to go, as Diamond found that Manning said the phrase a whopping 44 times against the Bolts, while cooling off a bit with 31 “Omahas” against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Omaha, Neb., Cashes In

Dave Weaver/Associated Press

The city of Omaha collectively loves Manning now that he’s using its name as an audible.

As per Rovell, the Nebraska city has been generating a ton of free advertisement due to these yells at the line of scrimmage.

David G. Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, said of his city’s efforts to donate money to charity after each “Omaha” call:

This has been terrific for us. Before Friday, we had calculated that news coverage of Omaha had generated the equivalent of about $10 million in advertising.

Companies such as Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha and more local-based corporations were all involved and more expected to join in now that Manning has reached the Super Bowl.

Denver Airport Has Fun

Working on the travel schedules and gate markers might not be the most exciting job, but someone had a lot of fun doing it in late January.

As you can see in these pics provided by Eli Jordan and Lukas Matzinger, the airport added exclamation marks anywhere the word Omaha could be found, making it read in the cadence that Manning uses while hurriedly yelling it at the line:

It’s no secret the entire city of Denver is collectively excited for this Super Bowl, and shows of support can be found all over, as evidenced by this airport tribute.

There Is Now a Penguin Named Peyton in Omaha

Schalk van Zuydam/Associated Press

The hype surrounding Manning’s “Omaha” audible officially jumped the shark when a penguin named Peyton showed up at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.

According to The Associated Press (via The Miami Herald), the newborn rockhopper is "a bit of a celebrity,” in the words of zoo director Dennis Pate.

More animals are likely to be named after the star signal-caller if he wins the Super Bowl.

Omaha Tribe Invites Manning to Reservation

Manning is going to be a busy man after the Super Bowl, especially if his Broncos win it.

However, he might need to go pay some respects and thank the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska for its blessing of his audible call during the team’s playoff run.

As per Omaha-NSN.gov, the tribe sent a friendly letter to Manning offering to explain what the word means and inviting him to the reservation. Here’s a snippet:

The Omaha Tribe wanted to further provide you with what the true meaning of the word “Omaha” means. Omaha (actually Umo”ho”) translates to “Against the Current.” The City of Omaha is named after the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. We are located along the Missouri River in northeast Nebraska and headquartered in Macy, Nebraska, 80 miles north to the City of Omaha.

It’ll be interesting to see if Manning shows up, but anything seems possible during this “Omaha” craze.

Keep Score at Home

If you’ve bet the over/under or just think this is a fun thing to do, the Omaha World-Herald has create a scorecard you can use to keep a running tally of how many times Manning uses the “Omaha” audible during the Super Bowl.

Twitter user Mike Selk tweeted out a picture from the paper, which you can print out to use as a scorecard:

While it may not be as exciting as scoring a baseball game, this "Omaha" counter is certainly an intriguing and novel concept.


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