TERRE HAUTE, IN—Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning interrupted an intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday for approximately 45 minutes in order to show backup quarterback Jim Sorgi how to properly hold his clipboard.
"He's got to learn consistency if he's going to be the backup on this team, and that starts with the little things, like holding the clipboard with two hands," Manning told reporters following the practice. "When I see my backup holding the clipboard with the top portion clenched in his one hand and the bottom portion digging into his bicep, I see a quarterback taking a 'me-first' approach. That's unacceptable."
"Holding the clipboard isn't about individual performance. It's about winning," added Manning, who later stated he was disappointed in Sorgi and that he thought the two were on the same page following a two-hour clipboard conversation he had with Sorgi during the Colts' voluntary spring practice. "I once thought that if Jim wanted to set himself apart, maybe he could wear his hat with a little extra curvature in the brim. But for now, I'd have to say he doesn't deserve that privilege."
Manning claimed to have mentioned several previous clipboard-mishandling incidents to Sorgi prior to the on-field confrontation, including times when Sorgi held only the bottom-left corner of the clipboard "as if he didn't care if he dropped it"; when he caught Sorgi gripping the clipboard with two hands, but loosely and "as if he was just going through the motions"; and when he saw Sorgi standing on the sidelines trying to spin the clipboard on his index finger, an action Manning called disrespectful to both the team and the game of football.
"I even caught him out of the corner of my eye letting the clipboard hang carelessly down by his thigh during our preseason game against the [Chicago] Bears," said Manning, adding that he had not said anything to Sorgi at the time because he wanted to give him a chance to rectify the problem on his own. "I almost burned a time-out, but that was on the same day he took my advice to affix an 18-inch length of clean white cord to the clipboard in order to keep better track of his writing utensil, so I let it slide. Baby steps, after all."
Manning said he began to suspect that Sorgi had reverted to a careless and lackadaisical state of mind upon seeing Sorgi gripping the clipboard at the top part of its clamping mechanism, which Manning said could have ultimately led to the application of enough pressure to allow the documents held by the clipboard to escape, and possibly even be blown towards the opposing sideline.
"Look—if he messes up like that and the other team has all of our offensive schemes, then we don't repeat as [Super Bowl] champions," Manning said. "It's that simple. True, I've never had to hold that clipboard, and I never plan to. Jim Sorgi is going to be holding that clipboard for the rest of my career, so it's essential he becomes a pro at it."
"We're only as strong as our weakest link," Manning added. "Jim Sorgi had best remember that."
Though Sorgi admitted to violating Manning's clipboard-holding policy, he said a lack of communication, not a lack of commitment, was really to blame.
"Sometimes Peyton and I just aren't always on the same wavelength," Sorgi told reporters after Manning left the facility. "It gets really confusing. Basically, Peyton likes to give me three different clipboard-holding options during specific game situations, signaling them to me before the snap. At any given time during a game, he could scream at me to change my grip to, say, ten-and-two instead of six-and-four, and naturally, there will be times I don't hear him completely."
"I just wish he would stick to his initial clipboard-holding plan—two hands at three and nine," Sorgi said. "It would make things easier on all of us."
Upon being told of Sorgi's comments, Manning commented that Sorgi's "prima donna attitude is the reason he's not allowed to run kneel-downs during the regular season."
Colts head coach Tony Dungy claimed he was unaware of any problem with his quarterbacks and said he would be taking more of a hands-off approach this season, allowing Manning to do the majority, if not all, of the coaching.