KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Peyton Manning was back on Rocky Top Monday, presenting the four academic scholarships he annually sponsors for the University of Tennessee.
The two-time Super Bowl champ and SEC quarterback legend said he’s “very much at peace” and has yet to have any football withdrawals, through Manning realizes that could change once the season arrives this fall.
“The fall, they say, is a whole different deal and I can’t tell you until we get there,” said Manning, who retired after 18 seasons in the NFL, capping his career by leading the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory.
“I will say I did not get shorted in any way,” said Manning, a five-time NFL MVP. “I got a full plate of football and saw it from lots of different angles, so I have been very much at peace with it, and I’m actually kind of looking forward to this fall, having a little free time.”
Manning joked his fall plans “shockingly” involve a lot of football. He plans to attend UT games against Virginia Tech (Battle of Bristol), at Texas A&M and at Neyland Stadium against Alabama, in addition to some NFL games featuring his brother Eli Manning as well as the Denver Broncos.
Manning’s attention on Monday, however, was on his beloved alma mater, a program he led to a 39-6 record and the 1997 SEC championship before departing to the NFL as the overall No. 1 draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning was gone when the Vols won the 1998 national championship, but the program was stocked with players that chose Tennessee on account of the exposure and excitement the New Orleans native had generated.
Manning, who hosted and played in his annual East Tennessee Children’s Hospital golf outing earlier Monday, said he’s on board with the optimism surrounding Tennessee this season, as well.
“I’m going over to meet with Coach (Butch) Jones and visit with the captains, and I’m going to talk to the team at 4:30 this afternoon,” Manning said. “It will be the first year that I will not work out with the team. I’ve thrown with the team every year after this scholarship presentation, so a lot of changes that way, so I won’t be throwing anymore, but I’ll certainly be helping them any way I can.
“Josh Dobbs is coming down to the Manning Passing Academy this weekend, he has been there the past couple of years, and I’ve really enjoyed my relationship with Josh. I’m looking forward to him having a great year this season.”