Peyton Manning’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech was very much a love letter to the sport. The five-time NFL MVP expressed just how deeply he appreciated what football had given him and emphasized the importance of providing opportunties for the next generation of players.
“When we leave this stage tonight, it is no longer about us. It is about cultivating the game that has given so much to us,” Manning said last month. “It’s about nurturing football to live and thrive another day, another year, decade and another generation. It’s about guaranteeing that kids everywhere can learn, bond, grow and have fun with every flag pulled, every tackle made, every pass thrown, every run, block, sack and touchdown scored. …
“The future of this game is ours to shape. We just need to take tomorrow on our shoulders as readily as we donned our pads before each game. Let this moment become a cherished memory, and then remember, a legacy is only worthwhile when there is a future to fuel.”
Those comments fueled speculation that Manning could serve as NFL commissioner whenever Roger Goodell chooses to retire. Unfortunately for football fans hoping to see the former Colts and Broncos quarterback sitting in the commissioner’s chair, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
During an appearance on “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” Manning declared that he had no interest in succeeding Goodell, saying he had no idea where the rumors originated.
“I said this the other day in an interview with Bob Costas, that I think if the NFL is lucky, Roger Goodell does it for another 20 years,” Manning told Simmons. “I know he takes his bullets, but he’s been great for the game. I don’t know what you call it. Fan of the game, ambassador of the game, that’s what I want to be. I don’t want to be a critic. I want to be a supporter of it, and I kind of want to stay on the player side.”
Just because Manning doesn’t plan to pursue that job doesn’t mean he won’t be busy over the next few years. Peyton will join his brother, Eli, for an alternate “Monday Night Football” broadcast starting this season. Their deal with ESPN runs through the 2023 campaign, so Peyton will be staying close to the sport he loves.
“Eli and I, I think, will be speaking from the player side on this ESPN2 broadcast,” Manning said. “Even though we don’t play anymore, you still feel like you’re a player by kind of staying on the player-fan side.”