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Broncos' visits violation of CBA?

  • 4/18/14  1:49pm

    The NFL will ask some questions about why Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterback Peyton Manning crossed paths at the University of Alabama earlier this month, but the two did not travel together and Gase was in Tuscaloosa for two days before Manning started his own visit.

    So, whether it is a punishable violation of the collective bargaining agreement is still to be determined, the league confirmed Friday afternoon.

    Alabama coach Nick Saban may have painted things with too broad of a brush earlier this week when he said Gase and Manning "were making some visits" and wanted to include Tuscaloosa on the list. A coach and a player taking a campus visit together in the offseason would be a violation of the league's CBA, which prohibits any such organized coach/player contact before the team starts its offseason program.

    The Broncos don't start their offseason program until Monday. Several sources confirmed Friday Gase and Manning were indeed at Alabama at the same time on what some with the Broncos privately described as separate trips and affirmed that the two are not making visits as Saban had characterized it.

    Gase's wife has family in the New Orleans area and Gase was on vacation when he also drove to Tuscaloosa to spend a few days at the Crimson Tide's football complex as part of the trip. Saban gave Gase his start in coaching when Saban was at Michigan State and Gase was still a student at the school.

    Gase was on Saban's staff at LSU as well. Because of that Gase also has long relationships with several assistants on Saban's current staff at Alabama. Gase is known to make several on-campus visits around the country each offseason to meet with a variety of coaches he knows.

    Manning, who has visited the University of Tennessee as well as Vols coach Butch Jones on several occasions in recent years, has known Saban for a long period of time, through Manning's father, Archie. Manning held workouts at Duke University with some of the Broncos' pass catchers earlier this month, too. Manning's former offensive coordinator at Tennessee, David Cutcliffe, is the coach at Duke.

    The Broncos said Friday the team would have no official comment on the matter, but the NFL is known to be looking into the visit. Any punishment considered would likely hinge on how much football was discussed and in what setting -- that if it constituted a formal boot-camp type setting with Xs and Os that had been planned by Gase with Manning asked to be there.

    Some in the league said Friday they believed Saban revealed the meeting to try to help recruiting efforts with a future Pro Football Hall of Famer like Manning having come to campus as well as a playcaller in Gase whose offense set the NFL's scoring record of 606 points this past season.

    "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 of Manning's visit. "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.''

    Saban also added, "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. That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well."

    Saban also called Manning "a friend and very well respected for a long time, ever since I coached in the league" and that Archie Manning "has been a really good friend of mine for a long, long, long time."

    In recent weeks Saban also hosted a football clinic that included Baylor coach Art Briles, Seattle Seahawks special teams coach Brian Schneider and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

    It is a murky part of the current CBA given situations like Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett sitting in team owner Jerry Jones' suite during the recent Final Four played in AT&T Stadium. Current Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who had played with the Cowboys for nine seasons before the team released him earlier this year, was also in the suite.

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