What could Alabama coach Nick Saban and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning learn from each other?
A lot, apparently.
Saban hosted Manning and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase for two days last week.
"A lot of people would say, 'Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, from a career standpoint and about as good as anyone has been in the history of the league,' " Saban said, according to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com. "After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he's going out to try and seek more knowledge and understudying of the game of football so he can play better."
It's common for coaches from the college and professional ranks to meet during the offseason to exchange ideas that can help them prepare for what each team will see in the upcoming season. What's rare, however, is for a player to be involved. If anything, that shows the status and respect that Manning carries in football circles.
Because Alabama runs a pro-style defense that has struggled with hurry-up offenses, Saban received valuable knowledge from one of the best commanders of a quick-tempo operation.
"Since they're a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them, in terms of what gives them problems and what defensive teams do that give them problems," Saban said. "That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well."
The meeting made sense, considering Manning's ties to Saban.
"Peyton Manning has been a friend and very well respected for a long time, ever since I coached in the league," Saban said. "We played them when he was at Indianapolis and I was in Miami. His dad [Archie] has been a really good friend of mine for a long, long, long time."
Gase worked as an assistant under Saban at Michigan State and LSU.
Manning visiting Alabama and offering advice may stir up his fans in Knoxville, where he played for the Tennessee Volunteers. But clearly, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterback is all about improving — even as a 38 year old who is in his 17th season in the NFL.
"To be honest with you," Saban said, "[Manning] was just trying to learn so he could be a better player."