Cato June spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts, winning a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning after the 2006 season.
June, a former linebacker, played in the NFL for several years after leaving Indy, but playing with Manning, needless to say, was a unique experience.
“Just like everybody knows, he’s the ultimate professional,” June said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s almost like he was a coach playing – and I’m on the defensive side. But just talking to Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James and those guys when they were there (about) how things went, (it) was slightly different than probably any situation where you have a quarterback that’s so knowledgable and capable that they’re able to run the offensive meetings. Hearing that from them is just kind of weird because on the defensive side, it just doesn’t happen. To have that type of faith in our leader, it’s no question why we were able to have as much success as a team and why he had as much success as a player.”
And, potentially, as an executive. June can’t picture Manning coaching on the sideline, but he does see him calling the shots from a suite.
“I don’t necessarily see him as a coach,” June said. “I’m not saying he’s bigger than coaching. I’m saying I see him as a person kind of going the Elway route – be a GM and probably be one of the few former players (who becomes an owner). I see him as a front-office guy, a guy that has the ability, the opportunity, the money to put himself in that situation. I think that as a player, you want to progress. You want to go that route and be a part of an organization (and) make the decisions and (see) what I would do if I was coaching, what I would do if I was the GM, what I would do if I was the owner. I see him as as (having) the opportunity to (be an) owner of a team or at the very least be a general manager.”
Indeed, Manning, as hard as it is to believe, might have a lot more left to give to football. What exactly that entails remains to be seen, but June never thought Manning would come back for the 2016 season.
“Not at all,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to go out on top, (you take it). It’s funny because you say (you want to play one more year). You’ll always say that. You’ll be 65 years old talking about I can take one rep. As a football player, you have this gladiator mentality. The end is imminent. It’s going to happen, but it’s not easy for anyone. No matter what point that you call the end, I don’t think that it’s an easy decision to make, even though it might be the right decision. It’s just going to be tough. It’s going to be tough. You can’t sit here as a former player and say (that) it’s an easy decision to make.”