The last time the Denver Broncos played the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Brandon Stokley made the national highlight reels with his “immaculate deflection” catch, which won the game for the Broncos.
Three years later he’s going back not with Kyle Orton, but with Peyton Manning.
Now in his 14th season, Stokley has 21 receptions for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s not the most exciting or productive player on the team, but he’s steady. Of his 21 catches, 14 of them have gone for a first down with many of those coming on third down.
He’s just what Manning needed to adjust to a new team and a new city.
Stokley, however, most likely would not have gotten his second stint as a Bronco if it weren’t for Manning, and the offer of free basketball tickets.
Manning needed to workout before multiply teams tried to coax him to their respective cities, and he wanted to do it with familiar receivers. Under the watchful eye of Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, Manning threw to his former Indianapolis Colts‘ crew.
“I told a few guys: Dallas (Clark), (Austin Collie), Stokley, I can get you courtside tickets to Duke-North Carolina, but you’ve got to come and throw for three days with me. I really needed to do these workouts because I was getting ready to have to workout for teams, whoever it may be.”
Stokley was looking so good during the workouts that Cutcliffe told him he should give it another shot in the NFL. He was running quick routes, keeping up with the younger guys, and as strong as ever. As good as Stokley looked, Manning had to rip into him a little bit.
“Brandon had been working out a little bit,” Manning said. “He came down there and we were working pretty good, throwing twice a day. I think that’s why Duke got beat in basketball because Brandon used the Duke trainers to work on him so much, they didn’t spend any time on the basketball team.”
Manning showed the Broncos some tape, and Stokley looked good enough on film to be brought in for a workout. The rest as they say is history.
“I’m certainly glad he’s here,” Manning said. “He’s been a big part of our team this year.”