Considered by many to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game, Peyton Manning is one of the most accomplished players ever in the NFL. He's the recipient of an incredible five MVP awards and two Super Bowl championships while playing for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.
Born in New Orleans, Peyton Manning is the son of Olivia Manning and former NFL quarterback Eli Manning. Peyton grew up with two brothers, Eli and Cooper, and the three spent their formative years tagging along with their father as he played with the New Orleans Saints. From a very early age, Manning seemed to possess the skills that would eventually make him one of the best to ever play the position of quarterback in the NFL. While attending Isidore Newman High School, Manning led his school to a 34-5 record, throwing over 7,000 yards in the process and making him a national sensation and the top recruit during his senior season.
After graduating, Manning attended the University of Tennessee in 1994, where his superior play continued to make waves in the football world. Across the span of four years at the University of Tennessee, Manning set several NCAA records, including passing for over 11,000 yards, 863 completions, and 89 touchdowns. The 6’5”, 230-pound Manning became known for his strong mental and physical attributes and brought attention to his school, making him a popular pick for NFL scouts. Unlike most NFL prospects in college, Manning opted not to leave at the end of his junior year. Instead, he remained for a fourth year at the University of Tennessee, completing his major in communications and business with a 3.6 GPA.
In 1998, Peyton Manning was selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the #1 draft pick of the entire draft, signing a contract worth $48 million over six years. This was where he would stat as a rookie and pass for 3,739 yards, 28 touchdowns, and he was named to the NFL All-Rookie First Team. The Colts ended the season with 3-14 record, with Manning noted for his persistence and perseverance.
The following year, Manning and the Colts rebounded to finish the next season 13-3 and winning the AFC East Championship. In the Super Bowl, the Colts lost to the Titans 19-16, but Manning was named to the second-team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl, both for the first time.
The 2000 season was mired in inconsistency, with the Colts finishing with a 10-6 record and clinching a wild spot in the playoffs against the Redskins. Manning ended the season with 4,413 passing years, 33 touchdowns, and was again named to the Second-team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl.
By 2001, Peyton and the Colts had introduced their now popular no-huddle offense, finishing the season with a 6-10 record. Manning threw for 4,131 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, and 4 rushing touchdowns, with the offense ranking second in the NFL for the season for most points.
During the 2002 season, the Colts named Tony Dungy as the new head coach, and Manning ended the year with 4,200 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns, and a return to the Pro Bowl. In addition, he was awarded an ESPY for Best NFL Player.
The 2003 season began with the Colts starting at 5-0 and reaching the AFC Championships, where they were defeated by the New England Patriots and their top-rated defense. The next season, Manning made NFL history when he scored the most touchdowns in a single season, breaking the previous record held by Dan Marino from the Miami Dolphins. He also became the only quarterback to start every NFL game during his career, the only player to throw for over 4,000 yards in six straight seasons, and the only player to score four touchdowns in five straight games. Because of his stellar play, Manning signed a $99.2 million, seven-year contract in March 2004 that included a $34.5 signing bonus. The NFL named him the league’s MVP in 2003 and 2004, making him the third player to receive the honor two consecutive years.
Manning began the 2006 season playing against his brother Eli and the New York Giants, the two making history as the first brothers to play against one another as starting quarterbacks, with Peyton’s Colts winning 26-21. The Colts ended the season as Super Bowl champions, defeating the Chicago Bears and Manning receiving the MVP Award. He was again awarded an ESPY, named to the Pro Bowl and the Second-team All-Pro. At the end of the season, Manning had his contract restructured to free up $8.2 million in salary cap money to pursue more top tier talent for the team.
The 2007 season saw the Colts open with a game against the Patriots, which was called ‘Super Bowl 41 ½’. The Patriots bested the Colts 24-20 in the game, and Manning finished the season with 4,040 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 98.0.
In 2008, injuries plagued Manning, who required surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee and forced him to sit out all pre-season games and most of training camp. By the end of the season, however, Manning had been named MVP for the third time, tying Brett Favre of the New England Patriots for most MVP awards in the history of the NFL.
The Colts named Jim Caldwell as the head coach 2009, and Manning became the first quarterback to achieve over 4,000 passing yards in more than a decade. He was also awarded the league MVP for a fourth time, hitting another record. The Colts advanced to the Super Bowl against the Saints, but were defeated in a hotly contested matchup.
During the 2010 season, Manning surpassed Dan Marino for most games with over 300 passing yards or more. He also celebrated his 200th straight game as a starting quarterback. Manning ended the season with a personal best of 4,700 passing yards, with the Colts winning their division for the seventh time in eight years.
During the 2011 season, the Colts re-signed Manning to a $90 million dollar contract over five years and designated him as their franchise player. A neck injury forced him on the sidelines, and after having one surgery to repair injuries, another was ordered in September. At the end of the season, Manning was released by the Colts and his No. 18 jersey was retired forever in March 2016. Now a free agent, Manning was highly sought after and eventually signed by the Denver Broncos with a five year, $96 million contract.
In his first official season as a Bronco, Manning took the team to the playoffs, where they eventually lost in double overtime to Baltimore, and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year as well as first-team All-Pro, with a second place finish in MVP voting.
During 2013, Manning threw seven touchdowns in one game and helped the Broncos become the first team to score over 600 points in a single season. In 2014, Manning made history again as one of only two quarterbacks to have beaten all 32 NFL teams. He also became the all-time leader in passing touchdown in the NFL, and made his 14th Pro Bowl, appearance, also a record. The Broncos made it to the playoffs but lost to his old team, 24-13.
In 2015, Manning announced he would return to action, with the Broncos going 12-4 in his final season and advancing through the playoffs to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 50. Manning made history as the oldest quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, to lead two franchises to a Super Bowl victory, and with two different head coaches. On March 7, 2016, he formally announced his retirement.
Since entering the National Football League, Peyton Manning has been one of its most beloved stars, credited with restoring the image of Indianapolis while being its biggest sports celebrity. According to a curator of the city of Indianapolis:
“There is no Super Bowl held here without Peyton. There is no Lucas Oil Stadium without Peyton. Without Peyton, the Colts would probably be in L.A. right now.”
As one of the NFL’s most marketable figures, he has appeared in several television and ad campaigns for the league’s biggest sponsors, including appearances on Saturday Night Live, Kids Choice Awards (where he won Favorite Male Athlete), the Indianapolis 500, and The Simpsons.
His charitable foundation, The Peyback Foundation, seeks to help disadvantaged youth, focusing on the states of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Indiana. For his work there, Manning received the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under. Alongside his brother Eli, he provided assistance during Hurricane Katrina to the disaffected people of New Orleans. In September 2007, St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis renamed his children’s hospital the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.
Manning and his wife, Ashley, were married in Memphis on St. Patrick’s Day, 2001. The couple have twins: son Marshal and daughter Mosley, born on March 31, 2001.
Self-described as a Christian, Manning had this to say about his faith:
“I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since. I hope and pray I don’t do too many things that displease Him before I get to Heaven myself. I believe, too, that life is much better and freer when you’re committed to God in that way.”
During the summer months, Peyton, along with his father Archie and brothers Eli and Cooper, run the Manning Passing Academy, which seeks to enhance the offensive talents of quarterbacks, tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs. The camp has included many prominent figures in the NFL, including Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
- Manning: A Father, His Sons, and a Football Legacy by Payton Manning
- Peyton Manning: The Inspiring Story of One of Football’s Greatest Quarterbacks by Clayton Geoffreys
- The Mannings: The Fall and Rise of a Football Family by Lars Anderson