Peyton Manning is always diagramming plays

Peyton Manning isn’t all business with his backups. He has a lot of fun with them too.

“Peyton,” said his father, Archie, “has some prank in him.”

That’s putting it mildly. Manning is notorious for pulling pranks on teammates, and his understudies are certainly no exception.

Kelly Holcomb, a Colts backup quarterback early in his career, remembers the time Manning stopped by his dormitory room at training camp for a chat.


“I told him, ‘Man, I’ve got to go get something,’ and I left him in there,” Holcomb said. “And when I got about two miles down the road I had this huge sensation of, ‘Why did you do that? Why did you leave Peyton in your room?’ It was a panic that came over me.”

Holcomb finished his errand and returned to the dorm. There, he found a large cluster of teammates, each holding camcorders to capture his reaction. The knot in his stomach grew.

“Peyton had moved my whole room downstairs in the lobby,” Holcomb said. “He had moved my bed, all my clothes, my TV, everything to the lobby. I said, ‘I knew it! I absolutely knew that you were going to do something!’ ”

Then again, Holcomb probably deserved it. He was constantly pulling pranks on Manning, such as the time he gooped Vaseline all over the neck hole of Peyton’s jersey.

“He was so upset,” Holcomb said. “I put it at the neck hole and he didn’t even look. His hair was sticking up straight like he had gel. It was really funny.”

Revenge is best served cold? Not in Manning’s book.

“If you do something to Peyton, his mind cannot rest until he gets you back,” Holcomb said. “So you know it’s going to be that day. He can’t wait for a couple of days to do something.”

Curtis Painter, the Colts’ current backup, won’t soon forget that time during his rookie season when he played a round of golf with Manning. It was a sweltering day, and his teammate made a considerate suggestion … Painter thought …

“He said, ‘Curtis, the back of your neck is getting really red; you need to put some sunscreen on,’ ” Painter said.

Manning fished something out of his golf bag and squirted something in Painter’s palm that looked like sunblock. The rookie, in turn, slathered it on the back of his neck and down his legs.

Turns out, it was Icy Hot, a heat rub for muscle pain.

“It took me a couple minutes before I realized it wasn’t suntan lotion,” Painter said.

Painter is a little hesitant to tell the story.

“I hate to give it away,” he said. “Because I’m sure he’ll use it again. I’m sure that Icy Hot stays in his bag all year round.”