Cutcliffe, Arians, Polian explain what made Peyton one of the best ever

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday March 07, 2016

With Peyton Manning retiring, some coaches who worked with him shared what made Manning one of the best ever.

To David Cutcliffe, who coached him at Tennessee and always worked with him in the offseason, there was no one greater.

“I’m not a little biased, I’m a lot biased. In my opinion, there’s no question, he’s the greatest quarterback to ever play the game,” Cutcliffe said Sunday. “I just think he’s the most impactful player who’s ever played the game at that position, and maybe period.

“Everyone will always have fun arguing that, but I’d stay up probably half the night arguing with them, if they wanted to.”

Cutcliffe doesn’t expect Manning to go into coaching, but he could go into a front office or media role.

How much of an impact has Manning had on football? LSU strength coach Tommy Moffitt was at Tennessee when Manning was there, and Moffitt still has a folder of the QB’s summer workouts going into his senior season, and Manning’s notes. Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman has the story, and Moffitt still tells his players.

"I tell them all, 'Right now, you're a better athlete than Peyton Manning ever was or Peyton Manning ever will be," Moffitt told Feldman. "But this — THIS! — is what makes him so special. His preparation and his attention to detail and the things he does that nobody else told him, that, 'This is what you have to do to be great.'"

Bruce Arians was Manning’s first NFL quarterbacks coach, with the Colts from 1998-2000. Arians said he’d never seen a pre-draft interview like Peyton.

“I could never get him enough information, whether it was about our opponent or our game plan or anything else,” Arians said in a statement. “We had him in for a pre-draft interview in ’98 and he had a notebook full of questions for us including one about Indiana tax code. I remember thinking, ‘who interviewed who here?'

“He’s an absolutely tireless worker on the fundamentals and one of the best practical jokers in the world. I was proud to have him as a quarterback but I’m more proud to have him as a good friend.”

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian has said Manning could immediately be a good NFL general manager. Polian also told USA Today one of the last things Manning told him before the 1998 draft:

"I'll leave you with this thought: If you take me, I promise you we will win a championship. If you don’t, I promise I’ll come back and kick your ass.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to