Tennessee video coordinator Joe Harrington, who has been working with Volunteers for more than two decades, got a call in early December while he was out to lunch.
He recognized old Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning's voice, but the Denver Broncos star offered no greeting, just a request to cut up a play from 16 years earlier and send him the video.
And there wouldn't be much challenge for Harrington in finding it, because Manning told him every detail of that play from the 1996 season.
The following story, told by Harrington as he introduced Manning at a coaching clinic in April (and posted in a YouTube video by Tennessee and brought to our attention by CoachingSearch.com), is a great example why Manning might be the best ever.
"I pick up the phone and I go in the corner where it's quiet, and I'm all, 'Hello?' and no 'Hi, how ya doing?,' nothing," Harrington said. "This is what he says: 'In 1996, Tennessee played Ole Miss in Memphis, in the third quarter we ran a play called Flip Right Duo, X Motion, Fake Roll 98 Block Pass Special. I need you to find that play, I need you to digitize it and I need you to send it to me at Denver, in my email.'
"Exactly where he said it would be is what he said would happen."
The video shows the play from Tennessee that Manning asked about, and also a clip of the Broncos practicing it. Denver didn't use it in a game last season.
Manning appeared at the coaching clinic and showed video of him going through drills from Tennessee, the Indianapolis Colts and Broncos. The part of the video that shows Harrington putting together all the various drills that Manning wanted for the clinic is an example of the attention to detail and intensity that has made Manning great.
And the story about recalling the play that happened when he was a junior at Tennessee is unreal. Since his college career, Manning has played in two Super Bowls, made 12 Pro Bowls, won four MVP awards and counting playoffs has thrown 8,554 NFL passes. But he still remembers the exact play call of a pass he made against Ole Miss in Memphis when he was 20 years old.
"It is an amazing story," Harrington said.
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