Bud Adams knows how to make a sales pitch to a man who’s had one job in one place for the last 14 years of his professional life: give him the opportunity to work in another place, forever.
Late last night a report from KHOU 11 in Houston surfaced stating that Adams is prepared to make Manning a contract offer that would keep him in Tennessee “for life.” At first that just sounds like a screwball pitch, the kind that’s usually reserved for selling cars. Close your eyes for a moment, and you’ll see a man with slicked back hair wearing suspenders. That’s Bud Adams, 20 years ago.
But it’s likely genuine, and we can only assume that “life” means Adams is willing to do far more than just give Manning a contract for two or three years, and pay him handsomely to be the Titans’ quarterback. Adams’ life sentence implies a coaching position, and one that allows Manning to advance up the ranks on Tennessee’s sideline.
Manning’s football past is rooted in Tennessee after he played his college football there, so by extension Adams believes he should come full circle, and those roots should bring him back to the place where it all began.
We know this because Adams’ motivations are blatantly and painfully obvious, and because we can read words in which Adams specifically outlines said motivations. The Internet is great like that.
From USA Today:
“Since he went to school in Tennessee, I think Tennessee is where he should be. I think he could play for two or three years. I think he’s the guy that could come in and turn this around for us,” Adams told The Tennessean on Sunday.
The risk here is that Adams will overplay his hand in an attempt to tap into Manning’s good ol’ southern values of family and loyalty. He’ll appear desperate, and worse, he’ll make Manning see him for exactly what he is: an old man preaching old values.
Manning may or may not see a long and prosperous post-playing career in his future in which he wears a headset, and yells at football players who aren’t school children. But right now he’s thinking primarily about now, and an opportunity to play out the twilight year(s) of his career while contending for a championship.
That will be the determining factor in where he signs, and his decision will hinge on a team’s ability to put another ring on his finger, and not a clipboard in his hand. If Manning does indeed want to pursue coaching or stay in the NFL in any capacity after he’s done playing, then every team will be lining up to offer him a job. His football intelligence is highly coveted and worshiped, but right now Manning is in the business of selling his arm.
Contending for a title will always trump some fabricated sense of loyalty and hometown sensibility.