Indianapolis Colts legendary quarterback Peyton Manning had a Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement speech to forever remember on a special Sunday night—as he unveiled his own bronze bust to join football immortality with the game’s other all-time greats in Canton, Ohio (including former teammate Edgerrin James, who was freshly enshrined just a day before this past weekend).
Manning’s speech was around 9 minutes and 23 seconds officially.
More than the 6 minute time limit allotted this year (although it was not strictly enforced), but honestly, everyone watching in attendance or on national television wanted him to speak even longer:
Give Peyton 8 more minutes. Nobody will care. We’ll all be better for it.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) August 9, 2021
For a popular professional athlete with a warm, engaging ‘made-for-TV’ personality, who’s made SNL skits, national commercials, and hosted sports awards ceremonies alike, he was—rather unsurprisingly, incredibly good on the hot mic:
Peyton Manning's really good at this, man.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 9, 2021
Just like during his longtime playing career, Manning was methodical in his delivery and incredibly well prepared—matching his speeches’ keynotes with a picture slide presentation just above him on the giant projector screen rather word-for-word:
A stupendous speech by Peyton Manning, who clearly also made sure the @ProFootballHOF had personally hand-picked photos to support what he was mentioning in his speech in real-time.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 9, 2021
This is the most visually produced presentation I’ve ever seen in Canton. pic.twitter.com/d5Rzem0jY9
Heck, he was reviewing his speech notes and still making edits just two presenters before his speech:
While Drew Pearson is speaking, Peyton is reviewing his notes and making edits. No joke.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 8, 2021
Did we mention he was well prepared?
There were too many teammates and coaches for Peyton to specifically thank in his allotted time limit—which he planned to honor to the best of his ability. He noted that he had already mentioned those ‘thank yous’ after retiring—and those acknowledgments would have to suffice given the new time restrictions in place.
However, he did make mention of joining former Colts teammates James, who he called ‘one of my favorite teammates of all-time’, ‘the great’ Marvin Harrison, and Marshall Faulk in Canton—along with former Colts general manager Bill Polian ‘the architect’ and ‘our leader’ head coach Tony Dungy. (He also recognized the passing of the late great Howard Mudd).
He also still managed to make humorous quips regarding his longtime AFC rivals Ray Lewis and Tom Brady too—and their own time constraints both in the past and going forward respectively.
He thanked his immediate family.
However, as the ultimate team player and consummate pro, despite being arguably the face of the NFL during his illustrious 18-year career, Manning never made his speech or the night—where he was ‘the star of stars’ in the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 truly about himself.
Sure, the 5x NFL MVP, 2x Super Bowl Champion, 10x NFL All-Po, and 14x Pro Bowler could’ve reminisced about all of his great plays on the field, his prestigious all-time passing records, and being one of the best players to ever lace them up in football history—and no one would’ve blamed him because it was his special night.
However, instead, Manning made a call to cultivate the game for continued growth from those that are so passionate about it—including the fans at its core, acknowledging change but closing, “And remember, a legacy is only worthwhile when there’s a future to fuel”:
In that regard, the potential future lead NFL executive for a franchise sounded more like the next commissioner than one of the league’s top quarterbacks ever:
Peyton Manning sounded like he can one day be the NFL Commissioner.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2021
Even in retirement, the transcendent Indianapolis icon remains one of the game’s truly great ambassadors—and will be in the future: