Peyton Manning made “Omaha” a well known part of Sunday’s AFC playoff game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers.
Known for his extensive audibles and pre-snap directions, Manning kept saying “Omaha” while calling plays and barking instructions to his team on the field during the game. The word “Omaha” quickly began trending on Twitter and was mentioned on social media, leading to many jokes and observations. But what exactly does “Omaha” mean?
Our friend Lance Zierlein, who is a host for Sports Talk 790 in Houston and comes from a football coaching/scouting background, shared an explanation for what he believes “Omaha” meant:
Manning’s “Omaha” call appears to be an “O”ffsides message to his oline where he is changing count to 2 w/ hard count on 1.
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) January 12, 2014
To further break that down, Manning/Denver picked a word that starts with an “O” as their code word for when they’re trying to draw the other team offsides. That would let his team know not to jump on the first “hut” he says.
Interestingly, right after Zierlein tweeted that, Manning drew the Chargers offsides. San Diego had five neutral zone infractions at that point. However, after Zierlein tweeted that note, I observed that on the Broncos’ four-quarter drives, the snap came immediately after Manning yelled “Omaha.” Perhaps he changed the code word’s meaning at that time to keep the Chargers off-balance. It seemed like “Omaha” then began to mean snap the ball on my next sound.
In fact, Manning’s former coach Tony Dungy said on Twitter that Manning even got the Chargers to jump twice with fake Omaha calls.
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) January 12, 2014
Omaha, Dungy noted, is a term universally used by football teams. Quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Tony Romo and even Eli Manning have all used it, as have many more. In simple terms, Omaha is just a code word that generally means the team is changing something about the play called in the huddle. On Sunday, it seemed like Omaha was a code word for the snap count.
Whatever the case, the city in Nebraska sure appreciated all the extra publicity:
— Official Omaha Info (@VisitOmaha) January 12, 2014