Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterback Peyton Manning crossed paths at the University of Alabama early in April, and that's led to many questioning whether or not the two have violated the league's collective bargaining agreement, as noted by Jeff Legwold of ESPN.
The two making a visit to the campus together would certainly be a violation of said CBA given that the organization hasn't yet begun its offseason program. But the phrase "together" is somewhat loosely used here, as it's been revealed that the two did not travel together. Gase was in Tuscaloosa for two days before Manning arrived at the school.
Gase apparently spent a few days at the team's complex as part of his vacation. Nick Saban gave Gase his start in coaching when he was at Michigan State (not an unsurprising connection given the sheer number of coaches with ties to Saban), while Manning has known Saban for some time and is always looking to better himself.
Perhaps the biggest issue is the fact that Saban referred to the visits as Manning and Gase "making some visits." The term "visit" is generally used in an official capacity in the NFL, and we also have the fact that Saban referred to the two of them, as though it was planned for both to be there at the same time for the same reason.
Saban did explain that Manning "was just trying to learn so he could be a better player," as noted by Andrew Gibble of AL.com. The issue is whether Manning and Gase were there collaborating on football knowledge with Saban to help the Broncos in some way.
But there's a lot about the visit we don't know. The official language in the collective bargaining agreement is below:
Players are not permitted to participate in Club-supervised workouts, Club-supervised practices, group or individual meetings with coaches, group or individual film study with coaches, or group or individual playbook study with coaches... (via Article 21, section 2, (a)(ii), Offseason Workouts)
Was Manning there at the request of Gase? Did they talk X's and O's considerably? Those are the two most important questions in all of this, but at this point, it seems likely the league would hand down much punishment, as noted at Mile High Report:
At the heart of it, I believe the CBA wants to protect against these things happening at team facilities. When you're talking about a couple of grown men paying a visit to someone else there becomes a grey area. Not to mention the fact that you cannot quantify intent on behalf of the team. We absolutely know the work ethic and drive of Peyton Manning and if he wanted to do this then who is to stop him? As far as Gase being there (which would be the issue) Gase worked for Saban at Michigan St. and LSU.
Ultimately I do not think there will be enough there for the NFL to punish the Broncos, but let's move past that for a moment.
Maybe it's tough for some people to imagine Manning and Gase being there at the same time by chance, but at this point there's little actionable evidence for the NFL.
The Broncos will officially begin their offseason program on Monday.