In his first meeting with the wretches since the end of last season, Peyton Manning opened the door. Earlier this week, from the podium at Dove Valley, he dropped a little gem on the inquiring minds from Nuke LaLoosh. He was talking about returning to the NFL last season after missing all of 2011 with a neck injury.
“Being back out on the field, playing with my new teammates, it was a new atmosphere for me, totally different culture and a huge transition, but I did not take it for granted one single moment, being out there on the field,” he said.
“Now, once you’re out there, you certainly want to win. It’s more fun, as the great Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh said in Bull Durham, ‘I like winning. It’s like, uh, you know, better than losing, you know?’ One of my great quotes that I’ve always used to motivate me.”
So naturally, when Manning joined us on the Dave Logan Show a couple of days later, I followed up, asking whether he found wisdom in other sports movies as well. Apparently happy not to be taking another question about nerve regeneration, he gave us an overview of sports films.
Then, without further prompting, he revealed the five movies he wants teammates to watch so they’ll understand his casual references to famous lines. Only one of the five is even nominally a sports movie.
“Well, I’ve always been a big fan of sports movies,” Manning said. “There’s probably better baseball and basketball great sports movies. If you had to name your No. 1 baseball movie, you’ve got to go with The Natural and Roy Hobbs. Basketball, you’ve got to go with Hoosiers, obviously.
“In football, it’s kind of up for debate. I mean, you could go with The Longest Yard — the original, not the remake, clearly — but it’s really more of a prison movie than it is a football movie. And, you know, there are some bad ones out there, right? There are some bad ones.
“But you could get into a little maybe R-rated with North Dallas Forty, and those kind of movies, a little more old-school. Kind of your era there, Dave. That’s kind of yours.”
“I know, I know,” Logan acknowledged.
“But Any Given Sunday, with (Al) Pacino, not necessarily what I would define as the classic football movie,” Manning continued.
“Listen, dude, you could never have played for Pacino as a head coach,” Logan interjected.
“No, absolutely not,” Manning agreed. “There’s no way. But I think there’s still that great football movie to be made out there. But Bull Durham, it’s a classic.”
That’s when he let us in on his strategy for connecting with younger teammates.
“I tell you, the past few years, as I’ve reached my elder years as a quarterback in the NFL, I’ve kind of tried to get to know these rookies and try to get on the same page with them,” Manning said.
“But what I’m finding out is we don’t speak the same language because we don’t know the same favorite movies. In order to get on the same page with me, you need to watch these five movies, so we can repeat lines and all that. I’ve kind of changed it up over the years, but the main five are going to be Vacation, Fletch, Stripes, Caddyshack and probably The Jerk.
“That’s kind of my top five. But most of these guys have never heard of these movies, and they really don’t think they’re funny because it’s a different kind of humor. It’s this ’70s-’80s-’90s humor. But whatever you can do to get on the same page.
“So right now (Broncos backup quarterback Brock) Osweiler is kind of working on that project and he’s trying to get to know those movies. I don’t think he likes ’em either, and he probably shouldn’t because I’m 37 and he’s 22 and that’s just the way it is. But it’s all about trying to establish the connection.”
“Honestly,” I asked him, “doesn’t Nick Nolte in North Dallas Forty remind you a little bit of Logan?”
“Absolutely,” Manning said. “Absolutely, he does. And I can be Mac Davis.”
“I couldn’t get out of bed on Monday, I can tell you that much,” Logan said.
There are several interesting aspects to Manning’s list:
First, they were all made between 1979 and 1985. Manning was born in 1976, meaning they all came out before he turned 10. So either Archie Manning gave him an early education in adolescent humor or Peyton went back to discover these classics later on.
The Jerk was released in 1979, when Manning was three; Caddyshack in 1980, when he was four; Stripes in 1981, when he was five; Vacation in 1983, when he was seven; and Fletch in 1985, when he was nine.
Second, they were all built around early members of the cast of Saturday Night Live: Chevy Chase (Vacation and Fletch), Bill Murray (Caddyshack andStripes) and Steve Martin (The Jerk), one of the most frequent early hosts of SNL.
Third, of course, each sports some memorable repartee that can be applied, often inappropriately, in other contexts. A few aren’t even profane. For example:
Dr. Joseph Dolan: You know, it’s a shame about Ed.
Fletch: Oh, it was. Yeah, it was really a shame. To go so suddenly like that.
Dr. Joseph Dolan: He was dying for years.
Fletch: Sure, but the end was very sudden.
Dr. Joseph Dolan: He was in intensive care for eight weeks.
Fletch: Yeah, but I mean the end, when he actually died. That was extremely sudden.
Recruiter: Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor? That’s robbery, rape, car theft, that sort of thing.
John Winger: Convicted? No.
Russell Ziskey: Never convicted.
From The Jerk, when a sniper keeps missing Steve Martin, hitting cans of motor oil instead:
“He hates these cans. Stay away from the cans.”
Cousin Eddie: I don’t know why they call this stuff Hamburger Helper. It does just fine by itself. I like it better than Tuna Helper, myself. Don’t you, Clark?”
Clark Griswold: “You’re the gourmet around here, Eddie.”
Sandy: I want you to kill every gopher on the course!
Carl Spackler: Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key.
Sandy: Gophers, ya great git! The gophers! The little brown furry rodents!
Carl Spackler: We can do that. We don’t even have to have a reason.