Saturday night, the NFL announced that former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would officially become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame — although the two-time Super Bowl champion actually learned about the honor earlier. Manning recently provided more information about the surprise and said that his wife Ashley was instrumental in making it more realistic.
According to the Indy Star, Manning provided the details about the "surprise" revelation. He said that the original plan was for David Baker, president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to surprise the family at their house with several cameras in tow. "That was going to be so natural and authentic," Manning sarcastically said. "Dinner with cameras all perfectly in place, then Ed McMahon comes and knocks on the door and tells you, 'You won a million dollars!'
"So Ashley said, 'Yeah, I don't think we're going to do that. That doesn't sound really like us,'" Manning continued. "Instead, we'll make this a football moment. So she was the one who kind of organized the whole thing, or quarterbacked it, if you will."
The announcement took place during NFL Honors, but Manning actually learned about his enshrinement in late January. He was told to film a special segment of Peyton's Places inside the Broncos' stadium. A group of men walked onto the field to surprise the retired quarterback. The group included David Cutcliffe and Philip Fulmer, Manning's offensive coordinator and head coach at Tennessee; Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, two former coaches of the Colts; and Gary Kubiak, the Denver Broncos coach during Super Bowl 50.
These men told him to watch video tributes on the Jumbotron, which included messages from other coaches throughout Manning's career. Finally, Baker walked onto the field to deliver the news. As the quarterback explained, this surprise was a "really cool way to find out" that he would become a member of the Hall of Fame. Manning explained that the moment served as a timeline of his entire football career.
"Being there with all those coaches, and those video messages, that really meant a lot," Manning told reporters. "It was just a neat moment. I can't tell you how much I appreciated those people coming out. … It was pretty symbolic, the way it happened with these coaches, the amount of hours I spent with Cutcliffe and Jim Caldwell and quarterbacks coaches, the film sessions with Tom."