The best jokes, anecdotes and other memories from Peyton Manning’s Hall of Fame speech

16 min read

Any football fan who watched Peyton Manning’s retirement speech five years ago knew that his next big speech — the one he’d make upon being enshrined into the professional Football Hall of Fame — would be must-watch material. On Sunday, Manning finally gave that speech and, oh, did he deliver. Over the course of nine minutes and 30 seconds — perhaps a touch over the Hall of Fame’s time request for speeches, but maybe it makes it once you narrow out the laugh breaks — Manning pulled all the proper strings together with his speech: some humor, some wistfulness, some words to tug at our heartstrings and a call to action. As we recap a number of the simplest moments, let’s begin as he did: with some laughs. Manning landed some early jokes at the expense of Hall’s request for shorter speeches, and at the expense of perhaps a number of the Hall of Famers who drove the organization to such an invitation.

“The 2021 induction class wants to thank those previous inductees who gave longwinded acceptance speeches, forcing us to possess a whopping six minutes to recap our football careers,” Manning said. “I want to offer a special because of my old rival, Ray Lewis, for being here tonight. Ray just finished giving his speech that he started in 2018. “Next year, acceptance speeches will probably shrink to four minutes. And speaking of rivals, my good friend Tom Brady is here tonight. By the time Tom Brady is inducted in his first year of eligibility within the year 2035, he’ll only have time to post his acceptance speech on his Instagram account.”

Fans naturally replied by raining boos down upon Brady, who rotated in his chair as if to mention, “What did I do?” There would be more jokes peppered here and there throughout Manning’s speech, but he knew the simplest thanks to starting was by getting people laughing. together with his father, Archie, presenting him for enshrinement, you knew Peyton would dedicate a big part of his speech to his family, and it certainly gave us a number of the foremost memorable moments.

“In my youth in New Orleans and in Newman School, football carved out an area for my favorite quarterback, my hero, my model, my dad — Archie Manning — to expire something he loved to me,” Manning said. “Dad, there’s nobody I might rather have or be more appropriate than you to welcome me to the present stage. My dad enabled me to play ball with my brothers, Cooper and Eli, the 2 best brothers a man could invite. And it gave my mom many reasons to both beef me up and patch me up. You mention lucking out with the foremost loving mother, who could also break down a Cover-2 defense also as any NFL quarterback.” He also later dedicated a part of his speech to his wife and youngsters.

“To my wife, Ashley, there are not any right words to precise how grateful I’m for you,” Manning said. “Thank you for your unstoppable love and support. And to our youngsters, Marshall and Mosely, you came into the planet at the precise time that I needed you most. the 2 of you’ve got already given your mother and me a greater inheritance than we could ever leave you.” Ever since growing up around the game because the son of an NFL quarterback, Manning has fostered a deep-seated love for the sport’s history. He shared just a touch of that in explaining how honored he’s to hitch the various other greats from throughout football history within the Hall with a story of a few dreams he had:

“The legendary John Madden says that the Hall of Fame busts whisper to every other in the dark, and it’s actually true,” Manning said. “My son, Marshall, and that I have heard it. But I also think that they run plays in the dark. They scrimmage. They throw a touch seven-on-seven. the opposite night I had a dream that I used to be in one among those scrimmages. the opposite team’s coaches were Vince Lombardi and Paul Brown. My coaches — Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson. That’s right: a Cowboy and a Steeler working together. Only in Canton, Ohio. “We were on the 50-yard line with only three seconds left within the game. Coach Cowher called a run .

I said, ‘Coach, I’m getting to need to audible.’ Omaha! I called a pass play. My bust faked a handoff to Barry Sanders. I called a 20-yard break-in route to Michael Irvin right as Deacon Jones and Ray Nitschke hit me at an equivalent time. Irvin, as he was getting tackled by Ronnie Lott, then lateraled to Steve Largent, who was during a footrace down the sideline with Darrell Green and Lem Barney. The savvy Largent, knowing he couldn’t win a footrace with Darrell Green, then lateraled back to Lance Alworth, who dove into the top zone for the game-winning score. In honoring the history of the sport, Manning also made bound to pay tribute to the coaches who helped him become the player he was, singling out two who died within the past year.

“I always thrived on being coached, and that i learned from a number of the absolute best coaches within the business, many of whom are here tonight,” Manning said. “Sadly, we’ve lost two special coaches to me this year: the good Howard Mudd and my good friend, Greg Knapp. May they both rest in peace.” Knapp was the Broncos’ quarterbacks coach for 3 of Manning’s four seasons in Denver, including the team’s 2015 championship season, and recently died tragically after being struck by a car while he was riding his bike. additionally to special shoutouts for his school and therefore the Indianapolis Colts, Manning made bound to express his gratitude to the Broncos for his time in Denver.

“To Pat Bowlen, the Bowlen family and therefore the Denver Broncos organization, you took an opportunity on me at an important moment in my career, and that I will always remember it,” Manning said. “Thank you from rock bottom of my heart.” And as a member of this new Hall of Fame team, Manning made bound to recognize a number of the Broncos greats who came before him. “I’m proud to get on an equivalent team again with John Elway and to hitch fellow Denver Bronco alums Steve Atwater and John Lynch during this weekend’s induction class,” Manning said. “And there’s room for more Colts and Broncos in here. I’m just saying.”

Of course, Broncos fans share Manning’s love with all the opposite homes he’s made — in Louisiana, where he grew up; Tennessee, where he visited college; and Indiana, where he first made his mark on the league. All the fans from those places have a spot in his heart, too. “If football has become my home, the people of the good states of Louisiana, Tennessee, Indiana, and Colorado became my relatives,” Manning said. “And as everyone knows, you’ll never really leave family behind.” in any case the joking and searching back, Manning turned his attention to the longer term to cap his speech with an impassioned plea to support the sport he loves so dearly.

“As members of this honored class, we have a responsibility to form our game stronger, from the corner playground to the most-celebrated stadiums,” Manning said. “During the past few years, the sport of football has been challenged by an explosion of sports and entertainment options, safety concerns, erupting social-justice issues, and a worldwide pandemic. Displaced fans have taken on a completely new meaning, as our stadiums are pack up and fans exclude. We certainly shouldn’t walk off now. once we leave this stage tonight, it’s not about us. it’s about cultivating the sport that has given such a lot to us. It’s about nurturing football to measure and thrive another day, another year, decade, and another generation. It’s about guaranteeing that youngsters everywhere can learn, bond, grow and celebrate with every flag pulled, every tackle made, every pass thrown, every run, block, sack, and a touchdown scored.

“The audience here tonight is formed from diehard fans who feel football deep in your bones. Now, we may have ignited the hearth, but you, you’ve got fanned the flames. Inevitably, those flames are going to be whipped by the winds of change, but they do not get to smolder. the longer term of this game is ours to shape. We just got to take tomorrow on our shoulders as readily as we donned our pads before each game. Let this moment become a cherished memory, then remember: A legacy is merely worthwhile when there’s a future to fuel.

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