Peyton Williams Manning (born March 24, 1976) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons. Considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he spent 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and four with the Denver Broncos. Manning is also one of the NFL's most recognizable players, earning the nickname "the Sheriff" due to his tendency to audible prior to the snap. The second son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and older brother of former NFL quarterback Eli Manning, he played college football at Tennessee, with whom he won the 1997 SEC Championship Game and earned MVP honors.
Peyton Williams Manning was born on March 24, 1976. He went to Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he led the Greenies football team to a 34–5 record during his three seasons as the starter. He was named Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player-of-the-Year and Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club National Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 1993. While at Newman, he began wearing the #18 jersey in honor of his older brother Cooper, who had to give up football due to spinal stenosis. Younger brother Eli also wore the number when he became starting quarterback. Newman has since retired the #18 jersey and it can be seen hanging in the school gym. Manning was among the most sought after high school players in the country and was recruited by about 60 colleges, including Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, and his father's alma mater Ole Miss.
Under new head coach Jim Caldwell, Manning started the 2009 season with a victory by throwing for 301 yards. In Week 2, Manning led his 29th fourth quarter comeback (38th career game-winning drive) by throwing for 303 yards and two touchdown passes, despite only having the ball for 14:53, the lowest time of possession for a winning team in the NFL since they began tracking the statistic in 1977. Manning was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for the fourth time in his career in September. Against the Seattle Seahawks, Manning passed for 353 yards and two touchdowns for his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing game, setting a new franchise record.
Needing a win to clinch the 5th seed in the playoffs, Manning had one of his best career performances in Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football. He completed his first 17 passes of the game. In addition to completing his last six completions against Detroit, Manning's 23 straight completions fell one shy of the NFL record (held by Donovan McNabb with 24). The Colts trailed 14–0 in the first half and 24–14 to start the fourth quarter. Manning led his seventh fourth quarter win of the season and the Colts put the game away with a defensive touchdown for a 31–24 victory to clinch a seventh consecutive playoff berth. Manning completed 29-of-34 passes (85.7%) for 364 yards and three touchdowns. It increased his NFL record streak of seasons with 25 touchdown passes to 11. Manning and the Colts tied an NFL record by winning three games in a season in which they trailed by at least 14 points. For his efforts, Manning won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time in the 2008 season. It was the 19th time he won the award, passing Dan Marino for the most all-time since the award was originated in 1984. He also was selected as the FedEx Air Player of the Week. With the Colts' playoff seeding secured, Manning only played the opening drive in a shutout against the division-leading Titans in Week 17. He completed all seven of his passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, extending his NFL record to nine seasons with 4,000 yards passing, and also extended the record to a sixth straight season he led the Colts to at least 12 wins. At the end of the 2008 season, Manning was named NFL MVP for the third time, tying Brett Favre for the most MVP awards in NFL history.
In 1996, while attending the University of Tennessee, Manning was accused of sexual assault by trainer Jamie Ann Naughright after he pressed his genitals against Naughright's face during a foot examination. He claimed that he was just pulling a prank by "mooning" another athlete in the room as Naughright bent over to examine him. Both Naughright and the other athlete have denied Manning's story. Naughright settled with the university for $300,000 for its alleged failure in four incidents and resigned from the school. She also made a list of 33 complaints about the school. Naughright filed a defamation lawsuit against Manning and three other parties in 2002, claiming that Manning defamed her in a book he wrote with his father and author John Underwood. The lawsuit was settled after the court ruled there was sufficient evidence for it to be heard by a jury. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed due to confidentiality terms.
As a senior, Manning won many awards; he was a consensus first-team All-American, the Maxwell Award winner, the Davey O'Brien Award winner, the Johnny Unitas Award winner, and the Best College Player ESPY award winner, among others. He finished as the runner-up to Charles Woodson in the 1997 Heisman Trophy voting. In 2005, Tennessee retired Manning's number (16). One of the streets leading to Neyland Stadium was renamed to Peyton Manning Pass. Manning finished his final season at Tennessee with 3,819 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. While at the University of Tennessee, Manning excelled academically and was elected to the Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa Society in 1997. He also received the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Award.
In 2005, the Colts had a greatly improved defense over that of recent years. Combining this with their offense, they won their first 13 games, including a 40–21 rout over the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. This was Manning's first road win against the Patriots in eight attempts, and his three touchdown passes earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. By Week 15, the Colts had a perfect 13–0 record, and secured the AFC South and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Nevertheless, head coach Tony Dungy made the decision to play all of his regular starters against the San Diego Chargers. However, the Colts played a sub-par game against the Chargers and fell short of the win; the score was 26–17. Manning finished the 2005 season with 3,747 passing yards, the first time he threw for under 4,000 yards since his rookie season in 1998, largely because Manning sat out much of the final two games with the top AFC seed clinched. His quarterback rating of 104.1 was the highest in the league for the season.
Manning, along with his father Archie, co-authored a book titled Manning: A Father, His Sons, and a Football Legacy, which was released in 2000. The book covers Archie's and Cooper's lives and careers, and Manning's life and career up to the time that the book was released, and examines football from both Archie's and Manning's points-of-view. Manning wrote about Jamie Ann Naughright, who accused him of sexual harassment, stating that she had a "vulgar mouth." He described his conduct toward her as "crude, maybe, but harmless." Naughright sued for defamation, resulting in an undisclosed settlement in 2003 and a court-ordered gag on Manning and Naughright from ever talking about the settlement or each other again.
The Colts suffered their largest margin of defeat in the season, 34–14, against the Green Bay Packers the following week. Manning threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns (for the second time in his career; the first was on September 30, 2001 against the New England Patriots). The following week, the Colts went into Tennessee on Monday Night Football to face the 6–0 Tennessee Titans. They led 14–6 in the third quarter, but Tennessee scored 25 unanswered for a 31–21 victory and almost assured the Colts they would not win the AFC South division title for the first time in six seasons. At 3–4, the Colts opened up November with their annual showdown against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Tied at 15 in the 4th quarter, Manning set up Adam Vinatieri for a 52-yard field goal that proved to be the winning points in an 18–15 victory. Manning completed 21-of-29 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts were 4–4 halfway through the season and still alive in the AFC playoff race.
During the season, Manning threw for 4,557 yards, had a then record 121.1 passer rating, and a then-record 49 touchdown passes while throwing only 10 interceptions. Manning's 2004 season was voted the second greatest passing season of all time by ESPN in 2013. He achieved this despite the 2004 season being his only season of his career where he attempted less than 500 passes. He finished with a league-high 13.6 yards per pass completion and 9.2 yards per pass attempt in 2004. His 9.9% touchdown passing percentage is currently the highest in NFL history. His 49 touchdown passes is currently the third highest ever and his 121.1 passer rating is the second highest ever. He was selected as the 2004 NFL MVP drawing 49 of 50 votes, was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and was named the Best NFL Player at the ESPY Awards for the second consecutive year. Manning also received the ESPY Award for Best Record-Breaking Performance for his 49 touchdown passes. The Colts finished the season with a 12–4 record and their second straight AFC South title. The Colts scored a franchise record 522 points. Three Colts receivers had 1,000 yard seasons with at least 10 touchdowns that season, also a record. Sports statistics cite Football Outsiders calculates that Manning had the best season ever by a quarterback, play-for-play, in 2004.
Peyton and Eli Manning played against each other three times in the regular season during their professional careers. These encounters were colloquially dubbed "The Manning Bowl", and Peyton's teams (twice with the Colts, once with the Broncos) held a 3–0 record over Eli's teams (three games with the New York Giants). The first Manning Bowl was held on September 10, 2006, and Peyton's Colts defeated Eli's Giants by a score of 26–21. The second Manning Bowl was held on September 19, 2010, with Peyton and the Colts beating Eli's team again by a score of 38–14. The third and final Manning Bowl was held on September 15, 2013, and Peyton and the Broncos beat Eli's Giants 41–23. They also faced each other in two Pro Bowls, in 2009 and 2013, both won by Eli's NFC Pro Bowl team. However, they never faced each other in the playoffs as both have always played in separate conferences (Peyton in the AFC and Eli in the NFC), so the Super Bowl was the only way they could meet outside the regular season. They never met in the Super Bowl.
On March 24, 2007, his 31st birthday, Manning hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live (season 32, episode 16), with musical guest Carrie Underwood. His brother Eli also hosted the show five years later. The episode earned the show's highest household rating in more than 10 months in the metered markets. He appeared on SNL again in 2008 and on the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special in 2015.
On May 27, 2007, Manning waved the green flag to begin the 91st Indianapolis 500. On February 18, 2018, he drove the pace car during the 2018 Daytona 500. Before the latter, he made a guest appearance on Fox NASCAR's pre-race show alongside race pole-sitter and fellow Nationwide Insurance spokesman Alex Bowman.
In September 2007, St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis renamed its children's hospital to Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent. Manning and his wife made a donation of an undisclosed amount to St. Vincent's and have a relationship with the hospital since he came to Indianapolis.
On July 14, 2008, Manning had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his left knee. Manning, who wore a knee brace due to problems since he was in college, sat out all four preseason games and missed most of training camp.
Against the Houston Texans in Week 9, Manning became the first quarterback to pass for over 40,000 yards in a decade. He threw a career-high 25 passes in the first quarter (most in any opening quarter since 1991), and had a career-high 40 pass attempts in the first half. He set a franchise record for most 300-yard passing games in a season with his seventh 300-yard effort of the season (also an NFL record through the first eight games of a season). In Week 10, a 35–34 victory over the New England Patriots, he was 28 of 44 for 327 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. His performance against the Patriots earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Two weeks later, against Houston, Manning claimed his 34th comeback win in the fourth quarter, tying him with John Elway and Johnny Unitas for the second most in NFL history. In Week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Manning won his 23rd consecutive regular season game, breaking Jim McMahon's NFL record of 22 straight wins with the Chicago Bears from 1984 to 1987. At the end of the regular season, Manning was awarded his fourth MVP, breaking the NFL record for most MVPs by a single player. He was also selected to the AP All-Pro team for the fifth time in his career. He finished the regular season tying his then NFL record with seven game-winning drives in 2009.
In 2009, Manning guest voiced (with his brothers Eli and Cooper) on an episode of The Simpsons called "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?" in which Bart dreams of having a baby brother and sees famous brothers like The Marx Brothers, The Blues Brothers, The Wright Brothers, The Mario Brothers, and The Manning Brothers. He also voiced Guapo in the 2017 movie Ferdinand.
In 2010, Manning was chosen as the 14th smartest athlete in sports by Sporting News. On the NFL Top 100 Players of 2011, he was chosen as the second best player in the league by his peers.
In a season-opening loss in Houston, Manning set career highs with 57 pass attempts and 40 completions, throwing for three touchdowns and 433 yards, the fourth highest opening-weekend total ever. In his third game, Manning passed for 325 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions, marking the first time since 1960 a quarterback began a season with three consecutive games of at least three touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, Manning failed to throw a touchdown for the first time in 2010, but led the Colts on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter (45th of his career) to hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season by a score of 19–9. In Week 6 against the Washington Redskins, he passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Including the playoffs, that was 68 career games with 300+ passing yards, moving him ahead of Dan Marino (67) for the most in NFL history. Week 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles marked his 200th consecutive regular season start.
~ Tom Brady on Peyton Manning in 2011.
The Colts placed their franchise tag on Manning on February 15, 2011. On July 30, 2011, the Colts signed Manning to a 5-year, $90 million contract after negotiations in which he made it clear that he did not need to be the highest-paid player in the NFL.
Manning married his wife, Ashley, in Memphis on St. Patrick's Day, 2001. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Ashley was introduced to him by her parents' next-door neighbor the summer before Manning's freshman year in college. The couple has twins, a son, Marshall Williams, and a daughter, Mosley Thompson, who were born on March 31, 2011.
Manning reportedly memorized the Colts' playbook within a week after being drafted, and in 2012, he was able to precisely recall the details and timing of a specific play that he used at Tennessee 16 years earlier.
With the Colts having the first overall pick in the upcoming 2012 Draft (which contained highly rated quarterback Andrew Luck out of Stanford), and with Manning due a $28 million roster bonus, he was released on March 7, 2012. Earlier, the Colts dismissed vice-chairman Bill Polian (who in his previous capacity as general manager drafted Manning), general manager Chris Polian, and head coach Jim Caldwell as a precursor to rebuilding the team.
Manning was one of the most highly sought after free agents going into the 2012 season. Several teams sought out to meet with Manning including the Miami Dolphins, the Tennessee Titans, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Denver Broncos. After visiting both the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos, Manning ultimately selected Denver after meeting with John Elway, a retired Broncos Hall-of-Famer quarterback who was now the team's Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager, and Broncos head coach John Fox. Manning reached an agreement with the Broncos on a five-year contract worth $96 million on March 20, 2012. Although the #18 is retired in honor of quarterback Frank Tripucka, he gave Manning permission to wear it.
On August 9, 2012, Manning made his first appearance as a Bronco in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears, where he completed four of his seven passes for 44 yards, and was intercepted once by Bears safety Major Wright.
Mark Kiszla, a sports columnist for the Denver Post, in a column about Manning's future plans, said that Manning's net worth "is estimated to be in excess of $150 million" and "That's not enough money to buy an NFL franchise by himself, although an ownership group that included Manning as president with a financial stake in the team would be led by a brilliant football mind." He has donated over $8,000 to Republican politicians, among them Fred Thompson, Bob Corker, and former President George W. Bush. During the 2016 presidential race, Manning contributed to the campaign of Jeb Bush. On October 26, 2012, Manning bought 21 Papa John's Pizza stores, all in Colorado. He sold his shares of the stores in February 2018.
Manning holds many NFL records, including AP MVP awards (5), Pro Bowl appearances (14), 4,000-yard passing seasons (14), single-season passing yards (5,477 in 2013), and single-season passing touchdowns (55 in 2013). He is also tied with Sammy Baugh for the most first-team All-Pro selections for a quarterback (7), and is third in career passing yards (71,940) and passing touchdowns (539). Having helped lead both the Colts and Broncos to two Super Bowls each, Manning is the first and only starting quarterback to have multiple Super Bowl starts with more than one franchise. He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017 and will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
On February 2, 2013, Manning was awarded the AP National Football League Comeback Player of the Year Award, named a first-team All-Pro selection, and finished second in MVP voting. On the NFL Top 100 Players of 2013, he was ranked as the second best player in the NFL by his peers.
On August 28, 2014, Manning was fined $8,268 for taunting D. J. Swearinger during a preseason game against the Houston Texans. With the Broncos' win in their opening game of the 2014 NFL season against the Colts, Manning became, along with Brett Favre, only one of two starting quarterbacks in NFL history to have beaten all 32 teams. In the next game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he had his most efficient game of the season by going 21-of-26 for 242 passing yards and three passing touchdowns for a 143.9 passer rating in the 24–17 victory. The next game was a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch with the Seattle Seahawks. In the 26–20 overtime loss, he had 303 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and one interception. On October 5, 2014, in a stellar performance against the Arizona Cardinals, Manning tied his career-high with an 86-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, threw his 500th career touchdown pass to Julius Thomas, and also tied Dan Marino for the most 400-yard games by a quarterback.
On October 19, 2014, against the San Francisco 49ers on NBC Sunday Night Football, Manning threw his 509th career touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, passing Brett Favre to become the NFL's all-time leader in passing touchdowns. His historic touchdown was part of a 318-yard, four-touchdown passing performance where he earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the 27th and final time in his career. Overall, he finished the 2014 season with 4,727 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. At the end of the regular season, Manning was selected to his 14th Pro Bowl appearance, tying him with Tom Brady, Tony Gonzalez, Bruce Matthews, and Merlin Olsen for most Pro Bowl selections in a career. The Broncos finished with a 12–4 record and earned a first-round bye. However, his season ended after the Broncos lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to his former team, the Colts, 24–13. Manning finished 26-for-46 for 211 yards and a touchdown. However, he went just 7-for-18 (38.9%) in the first half, his lowest completion percentage in a first half of any game since 2007. After the season ended, the Broncos and head coach John Fox parted ways. On the NFL Top 100 Players of 2015 list, he finished as the fifth best player ranked by his peers.
The most commonly cited criticism of Manning's professional career is that despite great success and impressive statistics during the regular season, he did not have similar levels of success in the postseason. His career postseason record as a starter was a more modest 14–13 compared to his 186–79 regular season record. Despite having less postseason success, Manning ultimately won two Super Bowls in Super Bowl XLI and Super Bowl 50 and was named MVP in the former. During the early part of Manning's career, commentators noted that "his record-breaking stats were written off because of the Colts' postseason failures." Conversely, Manning's final season in 2015 was statistically his weakest, but saw him end his career with a Super Bowl victory through the assistance of the Broncos' No Fly Zone defense.
On December 27, 2015, Al Jazeera America released a report conducted by the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit investigating professional athletes' use of Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) which named Manning, among other prominent athletes, as having received illegal drugs from Charles Sly, a pharmacist who worked at the Guyer Anti-Aging Clinic in Indianapolis during the fall of 2011. In July 2016, the NFL cleared Manning of the allegations after it found no evidence to support the claims.
Manning was inducted into the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. He was also named the 2016 Tennessean of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Manning was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017, his first year of eligibility for the honor, and was inducted during a ceremony in December. He joined his father Archie in the Hall of Fame, making them the first father and son duo to both be inducted as players.
On February 7, 2016, the Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24–10 in Super Bowl 50 as the Broncos' defense shut down the heavily favored Panthers' top-ranked offense and regular season MVP Cam Newton. Manning finished the game 13-of-23 for 141 yards with one interception while being sacked five times, scoring his only passing points with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter when he connected with wide receiver Bennie Fowler for a two-point conversion, which ended up being the final pass of his career. Manning became the oldest starting quarterback to both play in and win a Super Bowl at age 39 until Tom Brady surpassed the record at age 41 in Super Bowl LIII and again at age 43 in Super Bowl LV. Manning also became the first quarterback to start in two Super Bowls each with multiple franchises under different head coaches each time (Dungy, Caldwell, Fox, and Kubiak) and the first quarterback to lead two franchises to a Super Bowl victory. The victory gave Manning his 200th overall win including regular season and playoffs, making him the starting quarterback with the most combined regular season and postseason wins in NFL history. Tom Brady has since surpassed Manning's record in 2016.
Manning announced his retirement, after 18 seasons, on March 7, 2016. The last words of his retirement speech were, "I've fought a good fight. I've finished my football race and after 18 years, it's time. God bless all of you and God bless football." After 18 seasons in the NFL, Manning received the 2016 ESPY Icon Award. He won a total of nine ESPY Awards during his career.
In an emotional press conference, Manning told Colts fans, "Thank you for letting me be your quarterback." Upon his release, Colts owner Jim Irsay announced that no Colt will ever wear the No. 18 jersey again, and it was formally retired on March 18, 2016. On the NFL Top 100 Players of 2012, he was ranked 50th by his peers despite not playing in the 2011 season.
Manning hosted the 2017 ESPY Awards on July 12, 2017.
On October 7, 2017, in a ceremony attended by hundreds of fans, the Colts unveiled a bronze statue of Manning outside its Lucas Oil Stadium. Manning was inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor and was the first player to have his jersey retired by the Colts since they moved to Indianapolis.
Manning is the host of Peyton's Places, a documentary series about football on ESPN+, in which Manning interviews players, coaches, and celebrities. The series was renewed for a third season in December 2020.
On February 6, 2021, Manning was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.