In this handout image provided by the NFL, Adam Gase of the Denver Broncos poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
JERSEY CITY - Peyton Manning might love Adam Gase, the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator. But he would have hated Adam Gase the wide receiver.
Gase, the first-year play caller, said he was "terrible" when he played in high school in Marshall, Mich.
"Not good. Slow. Could catch a little bit. Poor route runner," Gase said Wednesday.
Even so, there was a moment when he considered trying to be a walk-on at Michigan State. As an undergraduate, he was already working on the coaching staff, helping with film and other tedious time-consuming tasks.
"I think it bothered me more than anybody early in my career. I remember thinking to myself, 'Are guys going to look at me differently because of this?'" Gase said.
One coach on the Spartans' staff, Chuck Bullough, suggested he try to play. The other coaches Gase talked to told him to stick to coaching, telling Gase he was getting more valuable experience there than he would on the field.
Those guys were right.
Gase followed then-Michigan State coach Nick Saban to Louisiana State and got his first job in the NFL in 2003 on Mike Martz's staff with the Detroit Lions when he was 25. It was an unglamorous job as a low-level scout, but Gase now credits the work he did then with helping shape the type of offensive coordinator he has become now.
Among the tasks he was assigned by Martz was to create film cut-ups from Martz's time running the St. Louis Rams offense.
"I typed in every game from 1999 to 2005 because we couldn't get the info from St. Louis. I had every call sheet, and I typed it in and made the cut-ups. I watched every game," Gase said.
Plenty of those games featured Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt starring for the "Greatest Show on Turf." Gase was captivated by how those teams played, and the aggressive style with which Martz called games.
"It was just like he never backed down. It didn't matter what the score was. They could be up by 28 in the fourth quarter, and he's throwing it," Gase said.
Throughout the Broncos' record-setting 2013 season, Manning has frequently praised Gase for his aggressive style. Though Gase quickly became a hot head coaching candidate - he turned down the chance to interview for at least two vacancies - he still doesn't always get as much credit because of Manning, who has the freedom and ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
The perception that Manning runs the offense doesn't bother Gase.
"I mean, he does so much to get our offense ready along with this coaching staff. He does so much at the line of scrimmage," Gase said. "We call a play, and if it's not good, he's going to get you out of it. There are a lot of coordinators that can't say that."
Nor does it bother Gase that at age 35, he's two years younger than the quarterback he coaches.
"I always look at it like this. A lot of guys played from the time they were 18 to 22. I went to college and did this. I've been doing this since I was 18 years old, and not a lot of guys can say that," Gase said.
(Copyright © 2014 USA TODAY)