Peyton Manning has one final game-winning drive.
His Hall-of-Fame speech tonight when he is officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the other members of the Class of 2021.
And he has to do it in six to eight minutes.
For a quarterback who beat the clock for 54 game-winning drives, handling a little speech in time should be nothing. Though it would only be appropriate for him to manage the clock down to the very final second.
“It is a limited amount of time (allowed),” Manning said in a Zoom call with reporters last week. “I’m right there at 7 minutes, 50 seconds, as we speak.”
But of all the six-to-eight-minute speeches tonight, if there is one that will no doubt end in a touchdown, it will be Manning’s. Few people are able to speak with such humility, wit and gratitude as Peyton Manning - something we got a taste of in 2016 during his retirement speech at Dove Valley.
Ian St. Clair wrote about that last speech in 2016, and it’s an excellent finale to this series highlighting some great moments in Manning’s career for Broncos Country.
Perhaps Manning will even call an audible tonight and go for the naked bootleg to finish it off.
Peyton Manning’s Hall of Fame locker.— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) August 7, 2021
Look at the detail in his notes. Harsh self-critic. “Forced throw to Cross — should have been picked.” pic.twitter.com/Z7RiIbPBzh
Retirement speeches are a mix of emotions.
For the person who gives it and the fans who watch. In both instances, a chapter of life ends. The inevitable question of, “Well, what now?” gets thrown out. All we have are the memories. We don’t ever want it to end.
Something tells me that Peyton Manning will be OK.
The great speeches include personal stories, humor, perhaps some tears and are 100 percent authentic. Over the years, some have been good. Others, not so much.
I always will remember the emotion that poured out of John Elway when he retired in 1999. He loved the game so much and wanted to keep playing for the franchise he loved, but he knew his body could no longer take the punishment of the NFL.
The best retirement speech ever is that of Lou Gehrig. The New York Yankees first baseman was all class, emotion and honesty. The Iron Horse of baseball was authentic.
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”
Peyton Manning's farewell speech: a clinic on class, gratitude, humor, intellect and emotion. Football's GOAT ambassador moves on. #18— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) March 7, 2016
Manning’s retirement speech is now in the conversation as the greatest ever.
Should we have expected anything less?
It was typical Manning.
He spent more time talking about and thanking the people who made it possible.
He showed his dry humor and wit.
He showed his emotion.
He showed how much he loves football and his former teammates, coaches and executives.
It was everything we have come to love and appreciate about Manning.
“Daddy, is this the last game ever?”
Manning continued: “And that’s just when I shook my head in amazement because I was thinking, ‘(ESPN) reporters (Chris) Mort (Mortenson) and Adam Schefter had gotten to my 5-year-old daughter to cultivate a new source.’”
The story of his grandpa when he first came into the league and wanting to know if legendary commentators John Madden and Pat Summerall would call his game.
Those personal memories made the speech so special.
Manning: "Grateful is the word that comes to my mind when thinking of the Denver Broncos."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) March 7, 2016
We all have our favorite Manning memory, and we’ll tell them for as long as we can.
Whether in Indianapolis or Denver, he gave fans plenty to choose from.
That was the first time Thomas’ mother had watched her son play football. Even with the mental and physical toll of the game, Manning put his teammate first. He knew how much that day meant to Thomas and his mother.
That says all you need to know about Manning.
He’s larger than life but knows how crucial the little things like that are.
Four years ago when Manning signed in Denver, he did so with class and respect.
Four years later he did the same in his retirement speech.
We don’t want this chapter to end, but we’re thankful for the four magical seasons he was here and what he gave to the Broncos and the fans.
In the words of Manning, “Omaha.”
A hearty Mile High Salute to you, Peyton Manning, from all of us at Mile High Report. You are the epitome of a Hall-of-Famer, and we are grateful you were a Denver Bronco. Tonight the honor will be official, and we will all celebrate your monumental achievements. Congratulations!