New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, right, talks with Denver Broncos players Champ Bailey, left, and Peyton Manning during batting practice before a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Colorado Rockies in Denver. AP photo.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — As evidenced by the proliferating number of pranks he’s pulling, Peyton Manning has gotten pretty comfortable in Denver as he enters his second season with the Broncos.
His teammates warn that Manning might not want to get too cozy, although none of them have gotten back at the productive prankster.
“I think a lot of guys are going to jump at that opportunity. So we’ve just got to plan something out real good for him and get him when it counts,” Manning’s latest victim, right tackle Orlando Franklin, said Wednesday.
Manning had gathered more than two dozen of his teammates for a trip to the Yankees-Rockies game the night before and engineered the gag in which receiver Eric Decker sneaked up on Franklin and smashed the 330-pound offensive lineman in the face while he was doing a live TV interview.
Just about all of his teammates except for Manning, who was surveying the scene like George Washington crossing the Delaware, was recording the interview on their cellphones when Decker decked him from behind.
Franklin tweeted afterward that Manning was the mastermind of the prank and pledged payback.
Last month, Decker was the victim of a gag when Manning tricked him into thinking he owed $3,000 to cover the costs of working out with him at Duke University.
Decker said it took him 15 minutes to realize the bill, complete with state taxes, was a fake.
He, too, vowed to get back at Manning.
“There’s some stuff in the works,” Decker said upon returning to Denver. “I got some intel from some people on his side.”
Franklin said he uncharacteristically let his guard down Tuesday night after he’d been drafted to talk on TV about attending his first baseball game.
“I wasn’t really paying attention to it. That was stupid on my behalf, but like I said I’m looking forward to getting those guys back,” Franklin said.
On the other hand, he’s glad he was finally the foil for the quarterback he protects on game day.
“Well, he’s pretty much gotten everybody on the offense,” Franklin said. “So I was one of those guys — it was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m glad that we got it out of the way.”
One of Manning’s favorite tricks is befuddling teammates by switching their iPhone language to Chinese.
“I actually caught him in the middle of it,” tight end Joel Dreessen said Wednesday. “I was in the shower and I get back to my locker and he was standing at my locker with a towel. I was like, ‘What the (heck) is he doing?’ He was trying to change the language on my iPhone.”
Dreessen plotted his revenge and actually carried it out — before having second thoughts.
“I tried to get him back. He was charging his iPad at my locker, so I set a dog barking alarm to go off at like 2 in the morning,” said Dreessen, certain that the meticulous Manning would take his digital playbook home with him like he always did.
He started to regret what he’d done, but not because he feared Manning would quit throwing to him.
“I got home that night and I was like, ‘Man, he’s got twin babies and I don’t want to wake his wife up. So I totally chickened out and I texted him that night, ‘Hey, I set your iPad to go off at 2 in the morning. Turn it off.’ He’s like, ‘Actually, I didn’t bring it home,’” recounted Dreessen.
“So he shoves it in my stomach the next day: ‘Hey, take this alarm off of there.’ So, I turned it off. I chickened out, though. I regret that; I should have left it on.”
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton