Former Colt won't divulge Manning theatrics

As Brett Favre's ironman streak moves up a peg, Peyton Manning's secrets aren't being divulged by former teammate Charlie Johnson. Manning's presnap theatric have long been a curiosity and their legitimacy remains shrouded in secrecy.

Brett Favre's legacy will take another step forward Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts take the field against Houston. For the first time since the 1998 season opener, the Colts will be without Peyton Manning – viewed by some as the greatest quarterback of all time. To date, he has never missed a game. That streak will end at 208 on Sunday, falling 89 games short of Favre's record and moving Manning's little brother Eli into the slot as the next contender to Favre's "unbreakable" record.

Manning has cemented his legacy even if he was to never play another game. In an era where quarterbacks run plays called from the sidelines, Manning has unprecedented autonomy to call his own plays. He is a throwback. But the question has long been asked and remains: How much of the theatrics Manning does at the line of scrimmage is real and how much of it is simply window dressing in an attempt to confuse defenses?

Viking Update has been on a quest the last few years to answer that question. The crusade to unmask Manning continues to go unrequited in terms of credible confirmation of the percentage of fakery. In a private moment, offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, who spent the last five years lined up in front of Manning listening to his audibles – real and imagined –was asked to pull back the curtain and give the straight dope on Manning's machinations.

No quarterback goes through more pre-snap theatrics than Manning. He will yell out key phrases. A steady stream of defenders questioned on the subject have decided that between 50 percent and 80 percent of the histrionics are "dummy calls" that mean nothing.

Finally, we had a chance to get the lowdown on the Godfather. How much is fake and how much is real? Johnson played five years in "the family" and could speak to it. But, apparently his La Coltsa Nosta ties run deep and he isn't a "rat."

"I'm not going to put that out there," Johnson said. "Obviously, it's in the past for me. I'm not going to divulge what they do for the sake of another team picking up on it out of respect for [Manning] and the organization. I'll leave it at that."

After a journalistic, "C'mon!" failed, all Johnson would say is that the Manning mystery, much like Bigfoot sightings, remains in the "you decide" file.

"There is a lot of gesturing and mimicry and all that," Johnson said with a laugh. "Some is real. Some is not. How much? You aren't getting it from me."

The quest continues.


  • Given the lack of playing time for the starters during the preseason, no Vikings missed practice Wednesday and, in the first of three days of injury reports, Asher Allen (foot) was the only player limited in practice. Three other players were listed with injuries – Chris Cook (hamstring), Donovan McNabb (right wrist) and Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) – but all fully participated in practice.

  • Are the Vikings taking a page out of the Bill Belichick book? For four years, Belichick listed Tom Brady in every injury report as probable with a right shoulder injury. He never missed a game and never appeared to have any shoulder soreness. Ironically, the first week his wasn't listed (Week 1 of the 2008 season), he was injured and missed the remainder of the season. The Vikings have specified McNabb's injury as "right wrist" in the injury report.

  • Three Chargers didn't practice Wednesday – WRs Patrick Crayton and Vincent Brown and linebacker Jonas Mouton.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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