At this point in his career, Peyton Manning has a pretty firm grasp on most things football related. But that's not keeping him from learning. Or potentially violating the CBA.
"To be honest with you, he was just trying to learn so he could be a better player," Saban said. "I think a lot of people would say, 'Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, and certainly from a career standpoint probably about as good as anybody's been in the history of the league. After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he's going out and trying to seek more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better.'
"It's a great example for a lot of young people, whether they're playing high school, college, Pop Warner or whatever, and it's something that I have tremendous respect for. I really enjoyed visiting with him."
One problem: Players and coaches aren't supposed to be talking football before offseason workouts being because of the new collective bargaining agreement. And the NFL, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com, is looking into whether Gase and Manning's Bama visit is a violation.
Saban, for his part, is reassuring everyone everything's above board and move along people, nothing to see here.
"Adam came Monday and talked to the offensive coaches and some of the defensive coaches," Saban said. "I know he talked with [Alabama defensive coordinator] Kirby [Smart]. He and I just visited casually. We didn't talk football.
"Adam was with me through two different college programs [at Michigan State and LSU]. And Peyton, we were just talking ball. We talked about particular defenses that give us trouble with the no-huddle. Things like that."
It's a pretty smart move by Saban. Unfortunately it kind of contradicts what he said before about "learning" and it sure seems like the visit is a CBA violation.
Sadly it shouldn't be. The idea is to limit the amount of time players are required to work and to keep an even playing field. But Gase and Manning are kind of the same dude: guys who love talking football and are obsessed with improving their game.
The trip to Bama and the ability to talk defense was probably fun for them. That's how they should sell it, even if the NFL won't want to listen.