WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Peyton Manning figured it has been 24 years since he last visited a New Orleans Saints training camp, back when his dad, Archie, was doing radio commentary for his hometown team.
But now that Manning is retired, he had time to go back to his roots.
Manning dropped by the Saints' camp this weekend at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where he was in town for a speaking engagement.
"I was thinking the last time I had been to a Saints training camp was, I want to say, the training camp going into my junior year in high school," Manning said in a statement released by the Saints. "I can recall going out to practice, Jim Mora was the head coach, and I was with my dad, who was doing the Saints radio broadcasts at the time with Jim Henderson. I was getting ready to go to Newman High School summer practice and I was working out and I remember throwing pass patterns after practice with the local media.
"So I was throwing passes to (local TV reporters) Lionel Bienvenu and Mike Hoss. That was actually the time I think I started to believe I could be a pretty good quarterback. ... I said, 'If I can get timing with fine athletes like Mike Hoss and Lionel Bienvenu, maybe I have a chance to be a pretty good quarterback.'
"That was a real major milestone for me, working out with the media at an NFL training camp."
Manning didn't participate in any practice drills this time around. But he said he attended the Saints' Saturday night meetings and watched practice from the field Sunday.
Manning had reached out to Saints coach Sean Payton via text a few weeks back, after he realized he would be at the resort at the same time, speaking at the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Leadership Forum.
"It's fun to be back. And it was great to see Drew Brees, who has been a longtime friend and an individual I have a great deal of respect for. And it was fun to be with him and the other quarterbacks," said Manning, who also rattled off a long list of Saints assistant coaches he has competed with over the years. "I really appreciate [general manager] Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton letting me come out there. ... It was great to shake a lot of the players' hands and really appreciated being asked to come out.
"Obviously it goes without saying, but I have a lot of respect for Sean Payton and the job that he does. A few weeks ago, my wife threw me a retirement party and invited guys that I have known for a long time in both coaching and playing. I invited Drew and Sean, and while Drew wasn't able to make it, Sean was there and I really appreciated him coming out. I just can't emphasize how much respect I have for them and the job they do and the great coaching staff there."