As Peyton Manning leads the Denver Broncos into Sunday's 50th Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers, the Omaha have extended an invitation to Manning to visit the tribe's homeland in Nebraska--whatever the outcome of the game.
Manning has become famous for shouting the tribe's name "O-MA-HA!" at the line of scrimmage--a multi-use code word for his offensive line that has long baffled and confused his opponents on the field. Much the way movie fans have assigned different meanings to "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane or Beatles fans have tried to elicit just who exactly is "The Walrus," decoding "Omaha" has become a sort of cottage industry for sportscasters and football fans alike.
“I know a lot of people ask what Omaha means,” he has said in the past. “Omaha is a run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass depending on a couple things: when, which way we're going, the quarter and the jerseys that we're wearing. So it varies, really, play to play. So, that's -- there's your answer to that one.”
But Vernon Miller, Chairman of the actual Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, knows exactly what Omaha means.
"It means 'against the current' in the Omaha or Umo"ho" language," said Miller. "We know a little bit about running against the current."
The tiny plains tribe of 3,000 members is located near the Missouri River about 80 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska. The tribe has invited Manning to visit their reservation before, but has thus far received no response from Manning, the Broncos or Alan Zucker, Manning's agent at Creative Artists Agency.
Nonetheless, says Miller, the Omaha still bleed orange for the Broncos and will be watching the game on Sunday.
"Regardless of whether they win or lose, we will be listening for our name during the game," said Miller. "We wish Manning and the Broncos the best and we want to extend an invitation to him to come visit us any time."
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