NEW YORK – Peyton Manning rewrote the University of Tennessee football record books as a quarterback from 1994 to 1997, becoming the Volunteers’ all-time leader in passing yards (11,201), wins by a quarterback (39) and passing touchdowns (89), while winning the Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Award and the Maxwell Award, among several honors, and leading UT to the 1997 Southeastern Conference Championship.
Still, Manning didn’t mention any awards, records or specific plays when he was asked about his fondest memories during his collegiate career on Tuesday at the New York Hilton Midtown a few hours before he was set to become the 23rd Tennessee Volunteer inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame.
“Relationships,” Manning said are what he remembers most, and what he was most thankful for from his football career.
“Everybody has expressed their greatest memory has been the relationships with their teammates, coaches, equipment staff, the trainers and video directors – people that are the behind-the-scenes of a football team, but are every bit as important as the star running back,” Manning said during a press conference with the other members of the 2017 Hall of Fame Class.
“I cherish those relationships and fortunately I still have them today even though I don’t still play. That’s my greatest takeaway of my years playing football are those relationships.”
Over 50 friends, family, teammates and Tennessee personnel are in New York for Manning’s induction, proving that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time was just as great as forming those lasting bonds of friendship as he was at tossing a perfect touchdown pass.
Manning also excelled in the classroom during his four years on Rocky Top, winning the 1997 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete, and attending the National Football Foundation banquet. Manning is just the second Campbell Trophy winner to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
“I truly took the role of being a student-athlete very seriously,” Manning said. “I had a great experience during my four years in Knoxville. I remember being amongst those other student-athletes 20 years ago. I met some great guys. I’ve been to this banquet a couple different times and it’s always one of the highlights. I’m just honored to be a part of that group.”
Mannings Become First Father-Son Duo Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
Peyton Manning’s first time at the NFF Banquet was 28 years ago when his father, Archie, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Peyton Manning was 13 years old at the time and he remembered the excitement of being in New York City for the first time.
“My mom let me and my two brothers miss school to come up here and witness our dad go into the Hall of Fame,” Peyton Manning said. “First time wearing a tuxedo. First time being in New York. It was a big deal. I can remember what a big deal it was for my dad.
“It’s kind of surreal getting to experience that same moment tonight. I’m honored to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame, especially with all of these great players and coaches. To join my dad – it’s quite a unique honor and very humbling.”
Archie Manning is the National Football Foundation Chairman and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer following a standout career as a quarterback at the University of Mississippi.
Peyton Manning had an appreciation for his dad’s college accolades at young age. He recalled listening to old radio broadcasts of Ole Miss games as a kid.
“I really took an interest in his college football experience,” Peyton Manning said. “I used to listen to the old radio broadcasts of his games. I had a real passion for college football, so to be able to go play at the University of Tennessee – I was honored to have the opportunity to play.”
For Archie, watching his son come full circle and join him as part of the first father-son duo to be inducted as players at the NFF banquet on Tuesday night will be a special moment.
“First of all, I was excited to hear that Peyton was going to be a member of this class,” the elder Manning said. “Tennessee people know how passionate he is about college football – how much he enjoyed his journey at Tennessee.
“He was here that night I was inducted. He and my other sons were in their tuxedos. I think it means a lot to him and we’re honored. To be the first of father-son duo is great.”
Relationships, Tradition are What Make Tennessee Special
Archie Manning talked about relationships, of course, as being a main reason his son had so much success at Tennessee under head coach Phillip Fulmer.
“Peyton’s relationship with Coach Fulmer – quarterback and head coach – through the years was so positive, so good,” Archie Manning said. “David Cutcliffe was there the whole time – he’s a great coach. Randy Sanders recruited him. That whole staff. He was close to those guys. Especially, when he stayed for his senior year. He had a great experience. He loves to keep up with his teammates.
“I think Peyton did what I wish all college players would do. Slow down and enjoy that journey through college. You don’t have to sprint to be an NFL player. There’s a lot there in college – tradition and campus life. I’m proud Peyton took his time and soaked that up.”
Those relationships formed over time and the tradition of 121 years of football are part of what make coming back to Rocky Top special.
When Manning had his on-campus salute for his Hall of Fame induction earlier this fall, he invited all of Tennessee’s living Hall of Fame members to be on the field with him when he received his plaque at Neyland Stadium. His father was there, too, of course.
“The University of Tennessee is an important part of the College Football Hall of Fame,” Peyton Manning said. “The on-campus celebration back in Knoxville this fall was very special. It had all of the other living Hall of Famers represented there in Knoxville. It meant a great deal to me. All out there on the field with me when I actually received my plaque. Obviously, my dad in his role with the National Football Foundation was on the field with me, as well. That was a very special moment. I’ve always been grateful of the support from the University of Tennessee family. It’s meant a great deal to me.
“I believe I’m the 23rd Tennessee Volunteer to be inducted. That certainly says more about Tennessee than it does me. But to join guys like Johnny Majors, Reggie White, Doug Atkins, and like I said, Coach (Phillip) Fulmer and Coach (Doug) Dickey – it’s very humbling.”
The 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class:
Bob Crable (Notre Dame), Marshall Faulk (San Diego State), Kirk Gibson (Michigan State), Matt Leinart (Southern California), Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Bob McKay (Texas), Dat Nguyen (Texas A&M), Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern), Mike Ruth (Boston College), Brian Urlacher (New Mexico) and coaches Danny Ford (Clemson, Arkansas), Larry Kehres (Mount Union [Ohio]) and Steve Spurrier (Duke, Florida, South Carolina).
No. 16 Becomes No. 23
Manning will be the 23rd Vol to be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame. He joins Gene McEver (inducted 1954), Beattie Feathers (1955), Robert R. Neyland (1956), Herman Hickman (1959), Bobby Dodd (1959 as a player, 1993 as coach), Bob Suffridge (1961), Nathan Dougherty(1967), George Cafego (1969), Bowden Wyatt (1972 as a player, 1997 as a coach), Hank Lauricella (1981), Doug Atkins (1985), Johnny Majors(1987), Bob Johnson (1989), Ed Molinski (1990), Steve DeLong (1993), John Michels (1996), Steve Kiner (1999), Reggie White (2002), Doug Dickey (2003), Frank Emanuel (2004), Chip Kell (2006) and Phillip Fulmer (2012 as a coach). Joe Steffy, who lettered at UT as a freshman in 1944, was inducted in 1987 for his accomplishments during his career with Army from 1945-47.
Manning is the third Tennessee quarterback to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Dodd, who starred at Tennessee from 1928-30, and Cafego (1938-39).
Seventy-five All-America coaches and six elite coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 95 players and 29 coaches from the divisional ranks were on the ballot. The Hall of Fame Honors Court, comprised of members of the National Football Foundation, athletics directors, coaches and members of CoSIDA, are responsible for the final vote for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
An Unmatched Professional and Collegiate Career
After 18 outstanding years in the NFL, setting league passing and touchdown records and winning his second Super Bowl last January, Manning retired from the game of football.
Leading the Denver Broncos to a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Manning earned his 200th career win (regular season and postseason included) to become the first player to reach that milestone. He is also the only quarterback in NFL history to have led two different franchises (he won Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts) to Super Bowl Championships. Manning retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (71,940), passing touchdowns (539), game-winning drives (56), fourth-quarter comebacks (45) and regular-season wins (186, tied with Brett Favre). He was also a five-time NFL MVP (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013) and a 14-time Pro Bowl selection.
Manning is the Vols’ all-time leader in passing yards (11,201), wins by a quarterback (39), 300-yard games (18), passing touchdowns (89), pass attempts (1,381) and pass completions (863). His 11,020 total yards of offense, 10 games of 300 passing yards, 22 home wins and 13 road wins are also Tennessee records.
Manning was the 1994 SEC Freshman of the year and earned All-SEC honors in 1995 and 1996. He was an Associated Press and Football News Third-Team All-American in 1996. In 1997, Manning was a consensus All-American and won the William V. Campbell Trophy, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, the NCAA QB of the Year award, the Maxwell Award, the James E. Sullivan Award, the Today’s Top VIII Award and SEC Player of the Year. He led the Vols to a 30-29 win over Auburn in the 1997 SEC Championship, earning MVP honors. Manning also received the 1998 ESPY for Best College Football Player.