Jacob Tamme has played in the NFL for eight years. He played the first seven with Peyton Manning – four in Indianapolis and three in Denver – and even played in two Super Bowls with No. 18.
On Monday, hours after Manning announced his retirement from the NFL, Tamme found himself reflecting.
“He asked the same he asked of everybody: to give him your best,” the Falcons tight end told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That’s what made him so great over all these years. He pushed himself to the absolute limits and expected more out of himself than probably anybody else in the entire National Football League. When you’re a teammate of his, when he’s expecting that much out of himself, it encourages you to expect that much out of yourself. That’s probably the best part as far as what I enjoyed (about) playing with him – the way that he made you want to excel because of the way he pushed himself.”
Tamme played college ball at Kentucky, which lost to Manning’s alma mater, Tennessee, in triple overtime during Tamme’s senior year. Manning, not long after meeting Tamme in 2008, made a playful joke about it. An angered Tamme told him not to. Minutes later, Tamme, a fourth-round pick, worried he would be released.
Manning, however, didn’t play that way.
“I think he respected it in some way,” Tamme said, laughing, “but our relationship definitely grew from there. It was off to a rough start after I said (something) stupid back to him. It’s a funny moment now. Looking back, I get a good laugh about it.”
Tamme certainly earned Manning’s trust in the years that followed, hauling in a career-high 67 receptions for 631 yards and four touchdowns in 2010.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever prepared harder maybe in the history of the NFL,” Tamme said of Manning. “When you’re in the process of earning that respect, he would stay after (practice) at least one night a week and we would stay and watch film. We would get on the same page to the highest degree we could with Peyton. Looking back on my time with him, those were the things I enjoyed the most. Were you putting in a little extra time? Sure, you were. But that’s what made it fun. That’s what made it special.”
Manning, who turns 40 later this month, has been criticized in recent weeks for his performance in the playoffs. Many people feel the Broncos advanced to – and won – Super Bowl 50 Super Bowl in spite of Manning, not because of him.
Tamme’s take? Get over it.
“It was probably the first time maybe ever that he got carried a little bit by a team,” Tamme said. “Peyton had to do everything for so long and be the reason that his teams won games – or the biggest reason that they won games – and this year he ends up riding the coattails of the defense. It was neat to see that because he deserved it. He carried teams on his back for a long time. A lot of wins can go on his shoulders for sure.”
Tamme said he learned more about defenses from Manning than anyone.
“He just has a great understanding of what a defense would be trying to do against him, based on the players that were on it and the coaches that were involved in it,” Tamme said. “Teams generally have a defensive identity . . . and they played Peyton completely different than that played 95 percent of other teams. It was interesting to see how those different match-ups worked themselves out and took place. At the line of scrimmage, he was the best. He was the best at knowing what was coming and making an adjustment. He just had great success with that over the years, no question.”