Bruce Arians expresses support for Peyton Manning, says he's the 'GOAT'

Bruce Arians was Peyton Manning's quarterbacks coach with the Colts from Manning's rookie season (1998) through 2001. AP Photo/Seth Rossman

INDIANAPOLIS -- In Bruce Arians' mind, there's little doubt who's the greatest quarterback of all time.

It's one of his protégés.

The Arizona Cardinals coach referred to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as the greatest of all time -- but in shorthand during his media conference at the NFL scouting combine Wednesday.

"This word -- GOAT -- got popular and to me, he is," Arians said. "Having worked with him early in the years when he was struggling was fun. To watch him persevere through those early years at 3-13 and 15 interceptions in the first eight games or whatever, and then just watch him grow and take off and become the player he's become, I think he's arguably the best that's ever played."

Arians was Manning's quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts, from Manning's rookie season in 1998 through 2001. Arians helped him perfect his high release and trained him in the no-huddle offense, which Manning generally has run throughout his career. Arians was also Manning's first position coach after his time at the University of Tennessee.

On Wednesday, Arians said the rehashing of Manning's legal troubles from an incident in the athletic training room while in college at Tennessee -- in which he allegedly dropped his pants in the face of a female trainer -- is getting more attention now because of Manning's recent success.

"This was just a bigger story now, I think, because of who he is and what he just did, not what happened back then," Arians said. "So it's, to me, it's sensationalism. Somebody trying to get their name out there and use him for a steppingstone. That's just my personal opinion."

He added: "If we're all going to get nitpicked for what we did in college, we're all in trouble. We all did things in college when we were growing [up]. This was just a bigger story now, I think, because of who he is and what he just did. Not what happened back then."