Peyton Manning Doesn’t Forget UT in Retirement Speech

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    Peyton Manning officially announced his retirement on Monday afternoon, hanging up his cleats after 18 years in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. But around here, most people care more about his four years in college at the University of Tennessee.

    And Peyton made sure he didn’t leave out his alma mater when talking about his long football career.

    Manning called his decision to return for his senior season at the University of Tennessee “one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.” Manning came back in 1997 for his fourth and final year rather than entering the NFL draft a year early and broke every notable UT passing record in the process. He also infamously finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Michigan’s Charles Woodson.

    Peyton sprinkled in a few other UT references throughout his speech, and one of the last things he said made Vol fans everywhere either smile or tear up. Or both.

    Above all, Peyton Manning seems to think of himself as a Tennessee Volunteer. He may have spent nearly two decades in the NFL, but his four years at UT have obviously left an indelible mark on him. And he’s continued to give back to his university, donating millions of dollars to the school and placing his name on the locker room at UT.

    Peyton Manning has and likely always will be the most loved Vol to play at UT and in the NFL. And he loves his alma mater just as much.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.