Following his introductory press conference with the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning spoke to the NFL Network and said he easily could have seen himself being a 49er.
On how he feels after the free agency process:
Im relieved that this part is over. Its been interesting; it has been a roller coaster going to back to the press conference in Indianapolis. I felt very fortunate that Mr. Irsay allowed he and I to have some closure, for me to have some closure with the Indianapolis Colts. Not many players get that, so I felt fortunate about that. Im tired from these visits going to see these different teams; I felt that was the only way to really do it was to get to know the people and try to get a feel for the direction of their teams and organizations. Ill tell you, I met some great people during this trip. The NFL is in great shape. There are some great owners, coaches, executives out there and this decision was hard. There was nothing that any other team did that made me not want to go there, and thats what made it so hard. The Broncos were very upfront and honest with me the entire time. Coach John Fox and John Elway answered all of my questions, gave me the direction of the future of their organization and I had to pick one. I wanted to go to all of them at one point, but like the other decisions Ive made in the past I decided to make it, not look back and to go from now and make it the right decision. I have to go to work to make it the right decision to be a Denver Bronco. I know John Elway, coach Fox and Mr. Bowlen are going to help me in that process.
On if he did not want to play for an NFC team because he didnt want to face Eli Manning in the playoffs until the Super Bowl:
Its unfair to say that because I wouldnt have had the discussions and the talks and the workout for the San Francisco 49ers if that were the case. I knew that San Francisco was in the NFC. When the two of us started to talk, I very easily could have seen myself being a 49er. Thats why it was so hard. I kept wanting for someone to just tell me where to go. The NFL Draft isnt all that bad because you just go there and there is no choice. Having it be my choice, that got harder and harder especially the more I got to know these people. Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak might be one of the greatest guys Ive met in this entire process; I loved him, I loved Jim Harbaugh and so the more I got to know them the harder it was to say no. John Elway was right: when I called him Monday morning, it had been a rough morning for me having already had to call these other two teams telling them it wasnt going to happen. That was hard for me, but obviously I was excited to be able to tell Denver I was coming here. I was glad to hear they were excited as well.
On if it weighed on him that he would have to face the Indianapolis Colts twice a year if he went to the Tennessee Titans:
The same thing: when Mike Munchak called me and said we might have an interest but we want to know if youre interested, I knew what division they were in. So I looked him in the eyes and said, Yes there is an interest; I would like to get to know you, lets talk. There is not one thing that Tennessee or San Francisco or Arizona or Miami or any of these teams did that made me not want to go play there. As a matter of fact, all they did was give me great reasons why I knew I could be happy going to play there. I wanted to go to all of them at some point. I remember this same feeling when I was in high school; I wanted to go to Ole Miss, wanted to go to Florida, wanted to go to Michigan you have to pick one. So it was difficult but I felt comfortable here in Denver. Its hard because when you say what is it about Denver, people are say thats what it wasnt about the other places. Thats just not the case. I felt very comfortable here in Denver, I like coach Fox a lot; I know hes hungry to win. Mr. Bowlen was very direct and upfront about what he wanted to do, and Im seeing John Elway in his role as an executive and he has that same competitive desire that you saw when he was a player. Im just glad to be a part of that, looking forward to getting to know my teammates and really looking forward to just getting to work.
On how difficult it was for him to see other quarterbacks on the teams that were interested in signing him being talked about as second options:
I hated that. I hated that part of it. If we could have done it all underground, if I could have snuck into the Titans complex or visited with San Francisco and nobody would have known about it, thats the way I would have preferred. As we all know, it became very public and everybody wanted to know. Thats not the way that I wanted it, but obviously I had to go play for another team. I still want to play and other teams have quarterbacks there. Thats been the worst part about this process. I know I will eventually talk to the quarterbacks of these other teams and I sure hope they dont hold it personal against me. It was the process of trying to get to know these teams and thats probably been the worst part about it. But I have great respect for Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Alex Smith and Tim Tebow all of these other quarterbacks. Its the most unique fraternity around; Im glad to be in the fraternity and hopefully that wont affect our relationships.