Why Did Peyton Manning Say "Omaha" During Play Calling? Multidimensional Answer

Melissa Willets - Author

Dec. 11 2023, Published 12:07 p.m. ET

Peyton Manning playing in Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos on Feb. 7, 2016
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Peyton Manning famously called out "Omaha" before each play while he was the quarterback for the NFL.
  • Fans have long wondered what the story behind the strange choice is.
  • To this day, the former Indianapolis Colts leader still has strong ties to the word.
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All quarterbacks use specific and secretive language when they play call at the line of scrimmage. Whether you're talking college players or NFL stars, many quarterbacks become known for certain sayings and words while calling plays.

Play calling pre-snap is quite complicated and it indicates things like cadence and coverage for a play. But why would Peyton Manning, who retired in 2016, say "Omaha" of all things when he was a quarterback in the NFL? Answers are ahead!

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AFC head coach Peyton Manning looks on during the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 5, 2023
Source: Getty Images

So why did Peyton Manning always say "Omaha"?

NFL legend Peyton Manning explained in a 2023 episode of the Smartless podcast that three-syllable words work well for beginning a play call. But there's more behind his interesting choice of using the Nebraska city as his go-to.

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The former QB explained in 2017 at a Las Vegas event that Omaha was an indicator word.

"It was a trigger word that meant we had changed the play, there was low time on the clock, and the ball needed to be snapped right now to kind of let my offensive lineman know that 'Hey, we'd gone to Plan B, there's low time on the clock,'" he said.

"It's a rhythmic three-syllable word, 'O-ma-ha, set hut.'"

Peyton seemingly developed his own particular brand of play calling in 2012, when he left the Indianapolis Colts after 14 seasons and headed over to the Denver Broncos, where "The Sheriff" finished his prolific career.

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Meanwhile, there may be an even deeper reason that Peyton gravitated toward this word: “I’m gonna be up front," he said in 2020 during an UpFront video. "Omaha was the name of my stuffed giraffe when I was a kid. And yes, I still have him.”

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Peyton Manning still has a lot of love for Omaha.

Peyton now hosts the ManningCast with his brother, fellow former NFL quarterback Eli Manning.

But his Omaha connection is still going strong. He founded Omaha Productions, and he also said that the people of the most populous city in Nebraska love him. Peyton even holds the key to the city.

Meanwhile, the fascination with his famous catchphrase hasn't died down, even years after Peyton took on a behind-the-scenes role in the NFL. To this day, it's the most talked-about play call word, even with quarterbacks from Patrick Mahomes to Trevor Lawrence using their own specific language to dictate plays.

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To demonstrate how inextricable Peyton is from the word, when he wore a hat that said "Omaha" in 2022, Twitter was abuzz about the full-circle moment.

"Now all he needs is an Omaha Steak," one fan joked on Twitter. Um, do we see a potential partnership there? OK, it reasons that the company and the football icon have already had that conversation.

Long live Omaha!

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