Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning sat down with Jason Frakes, Courier-Journal high school sports writer, to discuss his career, retirement, thoughts on children playing football and advice for high school athletes.
At the Kentuckiana Sports Awards Banquet on June 14, guest speaker Manning shared intimate details about his 22-year career as a football player. His most important piece of advice was to value time and friendships.
“Keep your work ethic as high level as it is, but really cherish your friendships and relationships with your family and all of your friends,” he said.
At one point he removed his two Super Bowl rings from his back pocket. The diamonds gleamed from the stage as he held them in his palm.
“I just got the Broncos ring this past Sunday,” Manning said. “I will probably put these away after 10 days. I don’t need to wear them as a reminder of the relationships that I have made.”
He answered three very important questions about today’s youth sports world:
Should kids play football?
“If your child wants to play, yes. IF they want to play. That’s what is most important. My dad never pushed me. I always appreciated that. If they want to do it young, find a good program. Make sure they teach good technique, tackling, and they know what they are doing to make it safer. Otherwise, wait and play flag football. I never played organized football until the seventh grade, and I did just fine.”
Lessons from an injury:
“I learned from Cooper [Manning’s older brother] that you can’t ask ‘Why me?’ and feel bad for yourself. You have to have a good attitude and understand that great things can come from the times in life where things change. The year I was out from football my wife and I had our twins, and that was a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.”
Manning’s advice to high schoolers:
“Don’t take your time for granted. Slow down and enjoy the moment that you are in. Don’t wish away high school or college; appreciate the time you are in and the people that surround you. When you go to college, you’re not going to have the same routine that you’ve always had with your families.
If you’ve worked so hard to get to this point, don’t forget to enjoy it.”