Peyton Manning Biography

Professional football player

Peyton Manning

Born Peyton Williams Manning, March 24, 1976, in New Orleans, LA; son of Archie (a former professional football player) and Olivia Manning; married Ashley Thompson. Education: University of Tennessee, B.A., 1997, graduate studies, 1997–98.

Addresses: Contact —c/o Indianapolis Colts, 7001 West 56h St., Indianapolis, IN 46254.


Played college football at the University of Tennessee, 1994–98; drafted number one overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the National Football League entry draft, 1998; Indianapolis Colts' starting quarterback, 1998–; won Super Bowl XLI, 2007.

Awards: During high school, named Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player of the Year, and Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club National Offensive Player of the Year; as a college freshman, named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year; as a college sophomore, named Sporting News National Player of the Week and Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week; as a junior, twice named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week and named the Most Valuable Player of the Citrus Bowl; as a senior, won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Maxwell Award, Sullivan Award, and was named National Football Foundation, NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations), and American Honda National Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Associated Press Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Football News Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, CNN (Cable News Network)/SI ( Sports Illustrated ) National Player of the Week, Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, and Most Valuable Player of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game; named NCAA (National College Athletic Association) Top VIII for Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete in the Athletics, Academics and Community Service, 1997; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 1998; Football News American Football Conference Player of the Year Award, 1999; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 1999; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 2000; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 2001; American Dream Award, Hudson Institute, 2001; Walter Payton/Indianapolis Colts Man of the Year Award, National Football League, 2001, 2004, 2005; Most Caring Athlete Award, USA Weekend , 2002; Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award (male), Rotary Club of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2002; Associated Press Co-Most Valuable Player of the Year Award, 2003; Sporting News Most Valuable Player Award, 2003; Football Digest National Football League Player of the Year Award, 2003; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 2003; Offensive Player of the Week, National Football Conference, 2003; National Foot- ball League Alumni Association Quarterback of the Year Award, 2003; Associated Press Most Valuable Player of the Year Award, 2004; Associated Press National Football League Offensive Player of the Year, 2004; Bert Bell Award for Professional Player of the Year, Maxwell Club, 2004; American Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year Award, Kansas City Committee, 2004; National Football League Most Valuable Player, Pro Football Weekly /Professional Football Writers of America, 2004; National Football League Offensive Player of the Year Award, Pro Football Weekly /Professional Football Writers of America, 2004; National Football League Alumni Quarterback of the Year Award, 2004; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 2004; Offensive Player of the Month, American Football Conference, 2004; Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, National Football League, 2004; John Wooden Trophy, Athletes for a Better World, 2004; Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, National Football League, 2005; Byron "Whizzer" White Humanitarian Award, National Football League Player's Association, 2005; American Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year Award, Kansas City Committee, 2005; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 2005; Super Bowl XLI Most Valuable Player Award, 2006; Offensive Player of the Month, American Football Conference, 2006; Offensive Player of the Week, American Football Conference, 2006.


The son of legendary college and professional quarterback Archie Manning, Peyton Manning followed his father's footsteps and surpassed his father's career by leading his Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI. Though Manning's tenure as a leading quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) was sometimes disappointing, if not controversial, his success in the 2007 Super Bowl game put some of the criticism to rest. He attributed his years of achievement to hard work and almost obsessive amounts of preparation, including watching hours upon hours of game film. The owner of the Colts, Jim Irsay, told Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated , "To do the things Peyton's been doing week in and week out, it's kind of like when a Bob Dylan comes along—you don't see someone like that very often."

Manning was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1976, where his father was the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. He also played for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings during a 14-year career. Manning has two brothers: Cooper and Eli, the latter of whom also had a career as a quarter-back in the NFL. From his earliest days, Manning was interested in the sport, though his father did not pressure any of his sons to play. He told the New York Times' Larry Dorman, "Dad never really pushed us into football. He never really let us play it on the playground. He never worked with me, like one-on-one passing drills, until I was a freshman in high school. It was always a situation where I had to come to him, ask him if he wanted to go work out. He never pushed me into anything."

Growing up in New Orleans, Manning set goals and pushed himself to become an excellent player, from high school and into college. Though he attended the small private Isadore Newman High School and played basketball and baseball as well as football, Manning prepared for his future career by having his father teach him how to watch and analyze film of NFL games. When he was heavily recruited by Division I colleges, Manning was thoroughly prepared for each interview. To avoid his father's potentially stifling legacy, he chose not to attend the University of Mississippi where Archie Manning's star had shone its brightest, but instead carved his own path at the University of Tennessee.

Manning readied himself to be the quarterback at Tennessee by analyzing hours of game film from his new school and worked out on his own five days a week beginning in the summer of 1994. Forced to start as an 18-year-old true freshman after the two quarterbacks before him on the depth chart went down to injury, Manning posted a record of seven wins and one loss. He continued to work hard in meetings, practicing, the weight room, on the field, and in the classroom.

By the time he was a sophomore, it was clear that Manning was extraordinarily talented, perhaps more so than his father because of a bigger frame, stronger arm, and quicker release. During his sophomore season, Manning helmed the University of Tennessee to a 11-1 record including an impressive 41-14 win over their rival, the University of Alabama. He also broke at least several school passing records, including most attempts with 380, completions with 244, and yardage with 2,954. The season was capped by an appearance in the Citrus Bowl against Ohio State, from which the University of Tennessee Volunteers emerged with a 20-14 victory. The Vols were ranked third in the country at season's end.

After a strong junior season during which Tennessee posted a 10-2 record and Manning was a finalist for the Davy O'Brien Award for best quarterback in the nation, he chose not to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft. Through he had already completed his bachelor's degree in speech communications with a 3.6 grade point average and was projected to be the number-one pick, he found the prospect of staying in school for another year while taking graduate classes more appealing.

As a senior, Manning led the Vols to the Southeastern Conference championship over Auburn University. Widely expected to win the Heisman Trophy, Manning was the runner-up to the University of Michigan's Charles Woodson. Despite this disappointment, he was honored with numerous awards for his last year in college, including the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Maxwell Award. He also held at least 29 records when he left the University of Tennessee in 1998.

Made the first overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 NFL draft, the ′5″ 230-lb. Manning signed what was then the richest rookie contract in NFL history. The deal was worth around $48 million over six years. From his first game, a 24-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Manning was an impressive professional quarterback. Writing in Sports Illustrated , Marty Burns commented, "Facing a tough Dolphins defense, Manning displayed poise, confidence, and a passing touch seldom seen in a young quarterback, but his inexperience clearly hurt his team."

While Manning continued to struggle at times during his rookie season, he set a number of rookie quarterback records including the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback with 26 and the record for most yardage by the Indianapolis Colts with 3,739. Though Manning also led the NFL in interceptions and lost more games that year (13) than he did during the whole of his college career, the future was seen as bright for both the quarterback and the Colts. He regarded it as a challenge, telling Mark Ribowsky of Sport , "It was frustrating and disappointing. But you can either sit there and feel sorry for yourself or do something about it, learn from it. You've got to look at the long haul, improve each week, each season. In time, the mistakes you make are going to even out."

Manning continued to improve in his second year in the league, 1999, on his way to become a superstar, taking his team from one of the worst to a burgeoning power. In addition to having a winning record, he led the league in a number of offensive categories and was becoming regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Much like his college years, Manning's success came from hard work and preparation, including watching hours of film.

As he was becoming a success in the NFL, Manning also gave back to the community. He continued to give motivational speeches. Manning also established a foundation, called PeyBack, which focused on helping underprivileged youth. Manning was also always ready to give an autograph and carried pens wherever he went. Though he was a practical joker in the locker room and in the huddle as well as his team's leader, his public image was of a sometimes awkward, goody two shoes.

Manning's progress as quarterback carried on through the first years of the 2000s, reaching a new level in 2003. By now allowed to call his own plays, Manning was like a coach on the field who could react to how the game was unfolding. He set numerous records, including becoming the only NFL quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards in each of his first six seasons as well as at least 25 touchdown passes in six seasons. Manning also improved his play by cutting down on his interceptions. For this success, he won numerous accolades as the Colts posted a 12-win, four-loss record, and the American Football Conference (AFC) South title. In the 2003 post-season, he led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game, where his team lost to the New England Patriots.

While Manning was widely admired for his prowess as a quarterback and for making Indianapolis one of the best teams in the NFL, he was roundly criticized for being unable to get his team to a Super Bowl. Though the Colts made the post-season four times in the five seasons up to and including 2003, the team never won the AFC championship for the right to play in the Super Bowl. This frustration continued for several more seasons, with commentators knocking both Manning and his coach, Tony Dungy. As Michael noted in Sports Illustrated , "Because Manning … and Dungy … have failed to measure up in the postseason, the personality traits that make them likable—friendly, studious, mild-mannered, among others—are ultimately cited as reasons for their failures."

After signing a seven-year contract extension worth $98 million plus a $34.5 million signing bonus, Manning bested his 2003 numbers in 2004. He broke more records such as throwing at least two touchdowns in 13 consecutive games and connecting for 49 total touchdowns on the season. Both records had been held by the Miami Dolphins' Dan Marino, Manning's favorite quarterback after his father, before being broken by Manning. Though Manning again led the Colts to an AFC South title and was named the NFL's most valuable player for the second year in a row, he was again unable to reach the NFL's ultimate game, the Super Bowl.

The team that often tripped up Manning and the Colts was the New England Patriots. The Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, had defeated the Colts in the AFC Championship Games at the end of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. While Manning continued to shine as a player, his inability to take the Colts to the Super Bowl became an increasingly heavy burden. At the end of the 2006 season, Manning and the Colts again faced New England in the AFC Championship Game. Before the game, he remained even-keeled about the situation and what it meant for his career. He told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times , "I'm into kind of enjoying the journey and not the destination. I planned on playing for a long time, and I've had highs and I've had lows and we're in the middle of a good opportunity right now. I just want to kind of enjoy the ride and not over-analyze my career."

For the first time in the postseason, Manning was able to lead Indianapolis past New England to victory. In the AFC Championship Game, the Colts won 38-34, though the team trailed the Patriots by 18 points at the end of the first half. Manning threw a game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes in the game, despite having a sore thumb. Manning withstood the pain to play in Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears. At the game in Miami, Manning was able to silence his many detractors when Indianapolis won 29-17. He was named the game's most valuable player.

After the victory, Manning was already focused on his goals for next season. He told Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post , "We want to be a better team next year. Just because we won this year, I think sometimes I've seen that and observed that maybe a team or even a quarterback kind of gets a pass, as I call it, after he wins the Super Bowl. That's not what I want. Next year, my goal is to be a better quarterback and our goal is to try to win another one. If we don't, it'll be disappointing."



Football Digest , Spring 2004, p. 26.

Los Angeles Times , January 21, 2007, p. D1; January 22, 2007, p. D1; February 5, 2007, p. D13.

Newsweek , January 13, 2005.

New York Times , January 1, 1996, sec. 1, p. 37; September 18, 1997, p. C1; December 12, 1997, p. C1; December 14, 1997, sec. 8, p. 1.

Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL), February 5, 2007, p. 4C.

Sport , May 1999, p. 38.

Sports Illustrated , August 26, 1996, p. 108; September 14, 1998, p. 48; November 22, 1999, p. 42; December 22, 2003, p. 40; December 20, 2004, p. 48; February 13, 2007, p. 50.


"Peyton Manning," Indianapolis Colts Official Website, (May 20, 2007).

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