As the Denver Broncos made their march toward the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning’s call of “Omaha” at the line of scrimmage got a lot of attention. It even caught the attention of the city’s tourism department.
The Detroit Lions hired Jim Bob Cooter away from the Broncos to be their new quarterbacks coach and it only took two days at minicamp for “Omaha” to be uttered.
Bad news Lions fans: Based on today's minicamp, new QB coach Jim Bob Cooter brought "Omaha" pre-snap call from Denver to Detroit.
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) April 23, 2014
Deadspin tried to work out the meaning of the call following the Broncos’ divisional round win over the San Diego Chargers. Some of the highlights:
The short answer is: On any given play, we don’t know. If we did, the Chargers and all of Manning’s opponents would know too, and it would lose any effectiveness as a cipher. All “Omaha” is is an easily understandable code word that won’t be mistaken for anything else, and can be used to signal something that the Broncos have decided ahead of time. How and when Manning assigns the word meaning is yet another example showing he’s one of the smartest quarterbacks the sport has ever seen.
When does “Omaha” mean the snap’s coming, and when does it indicate a switch to a hard count? Only the Broncos know. Manning likely alerted his offense to the word’s meaning on the sideline, or even with a separate code word earlier in the count—it can change from game to game, drive to drive, even play to play.
Deadspin also notes that Tom Brady has used “Omaha” as a call at the line in the past as well. You can check out the rest of Deadspin’s discussion here.