Born in New Orleans on March 24, 1976, Peyton Manning is the son of legendary New Orleans quarterback Archie Manning and Olivia Manning. While Peyton attended high school, Archie was the color commentator for the New Orleans Saints radio station. As a youngster, Peyton would occasionally visit off-season practices with his dad. On one occasion, then Saints coach Jim Mora, allowed Peyton to work out and toss some passes to the Saints receivers. Even more unbelievable than a high school student practicing with NFL receivers is the fact that he fit in perfectly at such a young age. While attending Isidore Newman High School, Manning served as quarterback during all 3 years.
At the end of his senior season, Peyton Manning was the top recruited quarterback in the nation and was named as the Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player of the Year. Following high school graduation, Manning decided to attend the University of Tennessee where he, once again, became a star quarterback for the team. While proving his skills on the field, Peyton Manning proved that he had equal skills in the classroom. Earning a BA in speech communication and graduating with honors was important to Manning, which is why he decided to put his football career on hold until he earned his degree.
As 1998 rolled around, Manning became a candidate for the NFL draft. The Indianapolis Colts welcomed Peyton Manning as their first pick in the draft and, as they say, the rest is history. Today, Peyton Manning is the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts where he has remained since his rookie season in the NFL. On October 29, 2005, Manning's #16 University of Tennessee player number was retired as he, his mom, dad and wife were on hand along with a capacity crowd prior to the University of Tennessee Volunteers game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Everyone at Neyland Stadium watched as Manning's number was unveiled in the endzone. From 1994 to 1997, Peyton Manning played at the University of Tennessee where he broke nearly every passing record and led the team to 39 victories. Prior to the game, Peyton's PeyBack Foundation held a fundraiser, which raised over $12,000.00 to be used for funding grants and events involving disadvantaged youth in Knoxville. On Friday, February 3, 2006, Peyton Manning was recognized as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
This award was named in recognition of the legendary Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton, who passed away in 1999. This award is the only one in the league to recognize a player's off-the-field community service in addition to his playing excellence. Connie Payton, the wife of Walter Payton, proudly presented the award. Fans around the nation celebrate Manning's accomplishments and achievements in football and in life. .
By: Bob Johnson