Thank You Peyton

Finally, it's over! Tennessee's prodigal son has done it. Peyton Manning has won the Super Bowl!

Finally, it's over! Tennessee's prodigal son has done it. Peyton Manning has won the Super Bowl!

In case you have been living under a rock for the last 13 years I will catch you up to speed. In 1994 a young quarterback out of Louisiana signed his letter of intent to play college football at the University of Tennessee, spurning the University of Mississippi (where his father was the all time greatest player in school history.)

When he went to his first practice, he was listed as tied for third on the depth cart with Brandon Stewart and behind Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton. Three plays into the season Colquitt went down and a few games later Helton realized his future was in baseball. That left Stewart and Manning to battle for the job. After a few games it was clear that the job was Manning's to loose, and he never turned back.

Over the next two seasons Manning basically owned every Tennessee and SEC passing record and brought tons of joy to Tennessee fans hearts. After his junior season there was no way he would come back to college, in fact most experts thought he would be the number one over all pick of the NFL draft. He had already achieved his degree, so there was really no reason for him to stay. When it came time to make the for the press conference where we would say good-bye to our hero, he once again made all Tennessee fans happy by saying, "In my heart I will always be a Tennessee Volunteer and my heart is telling me that I will return for my senior season at the University of Tennessee."  

During his senior season Manning broke several NCAA records and led the Vols to an SEC title and to with in a game of the national title. After doing all of this he would be a shoe in for college football's most famous award the Heisman Trophy, right? Nope. For the first time in history, the award was given to a defensive player, Charles Woodson. It was easily the biggest injustice in football history. Many voters said they voted for Woodson because Manning never beat Florida. I say they are just bias against the south.

After his senior season he was selected as the number one overall pick of the NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Many people at the time thought the Colts should have gone with another quarterback, Ryan Leaf of Washington State, saying Manning just couldn't win the big game. (Though I am not sure how many big games Washington State has ever won.) Leaf is now the quarterbacks coach for some junior college in Texas.

The year after he graduated the Tennessee Volunteers went on to shock the world and win the national title. Many of the players, especially the wide receivers, went to Tennessee to play with Manning.

Peyton took a large part of his singing bonus and created an academic scholarship at the University of Tennessee not to mention all the other charitable donations he has made. In fact, just last year he gave a huge chunk of money to the University to build a new athletic center. Peyton is just a flat out a great person. I hope one day my children have half the character Peyton Manning does.

As a Tennessee fan, this has to be one of our finest hours. It feels so great to live in a world where Peyton Manning went to the state of Florida and beat the best Gator quarterback (maybe ever, if not recent years) He quiet all his doubters and put Charles Woodson and all those Gator games of the 90's to bed (thank God!) We don't have to come up with a list of big games he won anymore to defend him. There is a lot of shutting up going on across the country today. All we have to say is, "Oh wait, are you talking about Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning?"

Thank you Peyton.

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