Peyton Manning is a household name as one of the most successful quarterbacks in football history and a figure that was constantly a part of pop culture over the years. His accomplishments include two Super Bowl wins and being the second quarterback ever to beat every single NFL team.
Peyton Manning’s Football Roots
Peyton Manning’s rise to football stardom wasn’t actually all that surprising. After all, his father, Archie, was an NFL standout for the New Orleans Saints following a successful stint at Ole Miss as a collegiate athlete. Archie loved football, and he passed that love on to his children, especially Peyton and his younger brother, Eli.
Fatherhood Over Football
Archie Manning was determined not only to pass his love of football on to his children, but also to be a better dad than his father was. Archie always believed that his relationship with his father could have been much closer. So even as a starter for the New Orleans Saints, Archie Manning always made time for his children. He wanted to prove to them that they were a constant priority to him and give them as normal a childhood as he could.
Starting Them Young
Besides Peyton and Eli, Archie Manning and his wife Olivia had another boy: Cooper, their oldest. Cooper, Peyton, and Eli would regularly play football out in the yard and were a frequent fixture in the New Orleans Saints’ locker room, as well. Although Archie says that he never specifically raised his kids to play football, their proximity to the game and admiration for their father made it a pretty certain outcome. All three would decide individually that they would pursue the sport.
University Of Tennessee
Peyton Manning followed a successful high school career with the decision that he would play college football for the University of Tennessee, not his father’s former school, Ole Miss. While the University of Tennessee knew Peyton had talent, he wasn’t a starter right away. In fact, he began the season riding the bench as the third string quarterback before claiming a starting role by the end of his first season with the team. That’s an impressive start by any measure.
Unfortunately for Peyton and at least one other person, his time at the University of Tennessee was not only marked by athletic accomplishments, but also off-field problems. During his junior year, Peyton allegedly exposed himself to a female trainer as a joke. Peyton’s trainer issued a formal complaint and Peyton was punished as a result, although he didn’t lose any playing time or see any kind of serious disciplinary actions due to the disgusting act. The issue wouldn’t end anytime soon.
The trainer was a 20-year-old student named Jamie Ann Naughright. When it came time for her to give her side of the story, she said Peyton asked her inappropriate questions and hit on her before exposing himself. Ultimately, she felt she had to leave the school over the issue and resulting hysteria, and though she received a settlement, she also said that her career was irreparably harmed by the incident. Worse yet, Manning’s book did not paint her in a very positive light, so she sued him for defamation of character.
In Peyton’s book, he said that while he did drop his pants, he did so to moon a teammate behind him, not to expose himself to the trainer in front of him. He also said that the whole situation was spurred on by a teammate addressing him with a disparaging remark. When the person who Peyton said he was trying to moon denied that the story went down in the way Peyton described it, however, it cast serious doubt on what Manning was saying.
Naughbright’s version of the story is much different from what many have stated. She said the harassment continued after the initial incident and she was forced to resign by the school’s administrators. Furthermore, she said that she was suspiciously demoted from a new position as director of the athletic training program at Florida Southern College after Peyton’s book was released and excerpts were sent to her supervisor. Naughbright’s side of the story makes it clear that she believes that the incident has harmed her for years.
Casting False Blame
Many aspects of Naughright’s story are pretty disturbing. For example, she told the New York Daily News that one of her supervisors at the university came to her and told her that she should change her statement and blame the incident on a black student instead of Peyton. According to Naughright, the individuals in question even selected a scapegoat that she was instructed to blame the incident on. Naughright said that she was under a lot of pressure to go along with the story.
Not everything was bad about Peyton’s college career, of course. Peyton was very successful on the field, in part because of his mind for football. His memory was so good that he was supposedly able to memorize the entire playbook in under a week. In addition, he has been said to have a very detailed memory when it comes to recalling previous games. This skill would benefit him in the NFL, where he supposedly committed the Indianapolis Colts’ playbook to memory right away, too.
Staying In School
Peyton knew that after three years at the University of Tennessee, he could have enter into the NFL Draft. In fact, most pundits said that if he did skip his senior year and enter, he would be the first person selected. However, even though he had technically already earned enough credits for his bachelor’s degree, he decided to return for a fourth and final season at the University of Tennessee instead of making his professional debut.
Rookie Of The Year
When the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning as the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, few people thought that he’d see a lot of playing time in his first season. He proved everyone wrong though, breaking the record for passing yards in a rookie season with 3,739 yards and earning a selection to the NFL All-Rookie First Team. Not only were fans excited about the future of the Colts with Manning on board, but coaches throughout the league were impressed by Peyton, as well.
Before long, it was clear that Peyton Manning would be one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks for years to come. He started to fulfill his promise by taking home his first MVP award, which was far from his last. He would end up winning five of them in total. The 2003 season wasn’t just special because of his first NFL MVP award, but also because he led the league in both passing yards and total touchdown passes, too.
Although Peyton Manning wouldn’t make it to his first Super Bowl until 2006, he was sure to make up for lost time. He captained a victorious Colts team to victory that first year, even winning the game’s MVP award. He would go to another Super Bowl with the Colts and add two more berths as the Broncos’ quarterback, appearing in four championship games in all. In 2016, he won his second and final Super Bowl in his last season.
Breaking Favre’s Records
While Manning had some postseason success, many believe that he was even better in the regular season. He broke many regular season records, including those for touchdown passes, career passing yards, and even MVP awards, as he won five of them. Although he played with other great quarterbacks, he surpassed those that he played with in all major categories…even the legendary Brett Favre himself. And let’s not forget that after Favre, Manning was only the second NFL player to defeat every single team in the league.
Even those who weren’t huge football fans are likely acquainted with who Peyton Manning is. Why? Because he was constantly on TV and in commercials during his playing days (and actually, he continues to be on commercials even after his retirement). He actually made more from endorsements than he did from playing at one point, doing commercials for everyone from Papa John’s Pizza to DirecTV and Nike. Buick and Gatorade also came calling, showing that Manning had the stature to only work with the top sponsors out there.
Peyton Manning, like a lot of former NFL players, is doing well when it comes to money. However, his combined playing salary and endorsements ensure that he’s in a league of his own when it comes to other football players and their wealth. For many seasons, Manning had a combined salary of at least $30 million for playing and endorsements. Still, Peyton would rather donate money to philanthropic causes that spend it all quite recklessly on himself, as other players do.
Let’s talk about Peyton Manning’s family life. He has been a married man for 16 years now after marrying his wife, Ashley, way back in 2001. Their relationship actually dates back much farther than that, as they actually began seeing one another back at the University of Tennessee. Together, Peyton and Ashley have two twins, a boy and girl that are both six years old. It’s only natural to be a little bit curious about whether Peyton is teaching little Marshall anything yet.
Most of the time, actors, actresses, and comedians are the best guests on Saturday Night Live, with athletes often providing rather uninspiring performances. This definitely wasn’t true of Peyton, though, who would go one to be one of the favorite hosts of many fans of the show. His initial hosting appearance was one of the highest rated shows in the series’ history, and he has gone on to also host several more times since then.
Best In The NFL
One of the best awards that a professional athlete can get is an “ESPY” award. That’s because the awards they set often represent the cream of the crop. The committees deciding the awards include respected sportswriters and experienced athletes. Peyton Manning has been fortunate enough to win three awards for the best player in the NFL. Two of the awards were earned during the first part of his career in Indianapolis, while one was added to his resume during his time with the Broncos.
Peyton’s NFL career was suddenly in jeopardy after the 2010 NFL season, as he was forced to go into surgery due to a pinched nerve caused by a herniated disc in his back. Peyton was undeterred and decided to get the surgery done right after the season so that he could heal up and get back quicker than before. Even worse, an NFL lockout the next year made him unable to use his team’s practice facilities to get back in shape.
Would He Ever Play Again?
Peyton Manning’s herniated disc was way worse than it sounds. For one, his peripheral vision was affected since he could not look at others to the side of himself without actually turning his head to see them. In addition, doctors were understandably concerned that a big hit could leave him at risk of an even more serious injury. Many doctors would refuse to give Manning a successful prognosis, leaving him to wonder whether he should even play again.
The Substance Scandal
During the year that Peyton Manning sat out of football games, it became steadily more important that he take care of his body moving forward. Unfortunately, the United States Anti Doping Agency would ultimately report that human growth hormone had been shipped to his home. While Manning was never suspended or officially linked to the use of performance enhancing substances, the suspicion from USADA was just another problem that Peyton had to deal with as he attempted to make his comeback.
Al Jazeera Report
During about the same time, Qatar’s Al Jazeera ran a report based upon Dr. Charles Sly’s supposed admission that he had supplied human growth hormone to several football players. The information was collected from an undercover reporter, who was also supposed to get evidence of Peyton’s participation or cooperation in the ring. She wasn’t able to get that evidence, however. Still the damage to Peyton’s reputation had already been done. Peyton’s next move would become a very important one, indeed.
The Scandal Goes Deeper
More information continued to come out about the alleged human growth hormone incidents. Before Al Jazeera began investigating Dr. Sly, his fiancee, Karen Lopez-Bartlett, had taken her own life. One issue of possible contention between Sly and Lopez-Bartlett is that while Sly preferred complex medicines, Lopez-Bartlett preferred all natural foods and medications. Investigators even wanted to determine if any illegal substances were in her system at death, but they weren’t given permission to look into it.
During his time with the Colts, Peyton Manning was able to turn Indianapolis from a forgotten flyover city to one of the most popular football cities in the United States. He was able to do extraordinary good for the Colts franchise and a lot of great things for charities in the area, too. For instance, he built a huge children’s hospital in the area. Meanwhile, the city hosted Super Bowl XLVI, which led to a number of huge investments throughout the state.
Moving To The Broncos
Many people thought that they’d never see Peyton Manning wear another team’s uniform, but with injury concerns and the great performance of young Andrew Luck, it became clear that Manning should separate from the Colts in 2012. He was granted his release from the team and allowed to go and sign with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. Of course, he still had to prove that he could fully come back from a very serious neck injury and surgery and be the player that he used to be.
Indianapolis still appreciated Peyton Manning after he went to the Denver Broncos, and their admiration of Manning continues to this day. The team’s management decided to retire Peyton’s traditional number of 18, which is a testament to how much they still loved him. Meanwhile, a statue of Peyton Manning has been built and unveiled at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts play when they’re in Indianapolis. Manning may have moved on, but he was always treated like a beloved son in Indianapolis.
Hosting The ESPYs
With his great personality and sense of humor, it was no surprise whatsoever when Peyton Manning was tapped to host ESPN’s ESPY Awards in 2017. As a nine-time winner at the awards show, he would certainly be quite comfortable there. His performance as host was a great one, as he refused to take any low hanging fruit that would result in cheap laughs at the expense of others. He even poked fun at his “good guy” image throughout the show.
Peyton Manning had a very successful career, and one that ended in storybook fashion with a Super Bowl victory in 2015. After that, it came as a surprise to no one that Manning decided to retire from the game of football for good. After collecting even more honors, such as the ESPY’s Icon Award, Manning has made a successful transition a somewhat normal life. He now owns 21 Papa John’s Pizza franchises in Colorado and continues to do commercials for a wide variety of companies.