Peyton Manning's Life Since Retiring From The NFL

When Peyton Manning retired in 2016, he was an automatic shoo-in for the title of greatest quarterback of all time. On the field, he led the league in wins and passing touchdowns in a single season, and was selected to the National Football League's 100th-anniversary all-time team roster — meaning that in the NFL's 100-year existence, Manning was among the 10 best quarterbacks (via Pro Football Hall of Fame). 

But that was on the field. Even if you never watched one of his games, you still likely have heard of Peyton Manning. That's because he was the NFL's most marketable player, according to Forbes. The year he retired, he earned $15 million in endorsements and was ranked 27th among the world's highest-paid athletes. With an established brand — as an everyday, likable guy — Manning began to build on his commercial empire and expand into the entertainment industry. Manning might say that he initially had no plans for his post-retirement career (per Axios), but it sure looks like he knows what he's doing. Read on to find out what all Manning has been up to since retirement.

He started his hosting career with the ESPY Awards

Seth Meyers, Norm McDonald, and ... Peyton Manning? Although electing the quarterback legend as host of the 2017 ESPYs seemed like a lateral move for the award show, Manning had already proven he had the charm for the role after years of having a television presence. Prior to the event, Manning told Jimmy Kimmel Live that preparing to host was a lot like preparing for a game, and unlike comedians who've hosted, he knew where to draw the line with banter. He also said he believed self-deprecation was the best strategy.

He had nothing to worry about, as it turned out. Manning's monologue brought the house down with jabs at the Atlanta Falcons (who had just lost Super Bowl LI), the Knicks, Aaron Rodgers, John Cena, his brother, and himself (via ESPY Awards). Despite his earlier promise not to poke fun at his fellow athletes — which in hindsight, appeared deliberately deceptive — he threw out some cold-blooded but hilarious zingers and then claimed he was forced to by the producers. His performance received rave reviews, like from IndyStar, but one person wasn't laughing and still isn't. Peyton Manning roasted Kevin Durant for joining the Warriors in 2016 when they were hot by saying he'd want to join the very successful U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team. Durant did not look amused when the camera panned to his face, and years later in 2022, he said on Twitter that he never found the joke funny.

He's journeyed through football history with 'Peyton's Places'

As ESPN+ came into the streaming world, they brought along with them a sure-fire hit to increase viewership: a Peyton Manning-led documentary series on the history of football. It was part of the NFL's celebration of its 100th season, and it featured Manning delving into legendary moments of pro football, per ESPN. Episode one had Manning tracing the creation of the NFL to a car dealership, which conveniently allowed Manning to visit Jay Leno's impressive car collection. In the second episode, Manning and legendary Hall of Famer Cris Carter recreated an NFL PR stunt from 1926 in which Manning threw a football from a skyscraper in New York City for Carter to catch in Bryant Park.

It's Peyton Manning, so of course, there's a lot of comedic relief. The very first scene of the show featured his father, Archie, nudging him to get a job and lay off the insurance ads. Non-football-aligned celebrity appearances include Bill Clinton and David Letterman, notes Deadline. The success of the first season led to a second, and the third season was renewed in 2020. Manning also served as an executive producer for the series and said he intended to give athletes from other sports a chance to host their own documentary series, naming Ronda Rousey and David Ortiz as prospective candidates.

Peyton Manning was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

In 2021, Peyton Manning became a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The stats during his football career speak for themselves: as the Colts' franchise quarterback from 1998 to 2011, he set rookie records for completions, yards, and touchdowns, per Pro Football Hall of Fame. He led the 2006 Indianapolis Colts team to a Super Bowl victory and was named the game's MVP. As a Colt, he earned the league's MVP a whopping four times. 

If his career ended with his first team, it would have been enough for a ticket to Canton, but he continued his success with the Denver Broncos. In 2012, he became the Comeback Player of the Year, and the following year, he nabbed the league's MVP title once again, notes the Broncos. He led the team to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one in 2016 in his last season. Known for his arm, Manning set almost every quarterback record, including passing touchdowns in a season with 55, and career passing yards with 71,940. By the time he retired, Manning was the only quarterback ever to lead two teams to the Super Bowl.

His father and former NFL quarterback, Archie Manning, presented him at the ceremony, while former rivals Tom Brady and Ray Lewis were in the audience to support him, via NFL. In his speech, Manning said he was finished with football and would continue to find ways to preserve the game.

Peyton Manning became a voice actor

Peyton Manning has such a distinct voice — with hints of a Southern twang, arguably — that it's not hard to believe that he's finally taking advantage of it. His first stint as a voice actor came with a 2009 episode on The Simpsons, alongside his brothers, Cooper and Eli, reports NOLA. Like many celebrity appearances on the show, the Mannings played themselves. In the episode, Peyton and Eli tease Cooper for never playing in the pros.

Manning added more voiceover work to his portfolio with his character Guapo in the 2017 film "Ferdinand." Manning played the title character's best friend, giving the former quarterback the most exposure he's had in a film. He was approached with the offer to be part of the film by producers. He told Mulderville that he readily accepted because his six-year-old twins are the film's target audience, so he's had a lot of experience watching animated films already. Manning was surprised to find out that the voiceover role incorporated a lot of his physical movements and facial expressions, so he had to lend over more than just his voice for the role, giving him acting experience, as well.

He's on air for 'Monday Night Football'

If there's ever a moment when Monday Night Football gets a little boring, you can always switch the channel to ESPN2, where brothers Peyton and Eli Manning talk to celebrity guests as the game plays and rib each other in a brotherly fashion. Since its inception in 2021, the ManningCast has been a popular alternative telecast, and because some Monday night games are total snoozers, the brothers' cheeky back-and-forth banter and candid reactions can be a godsend. Officially billed as "Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli," it drew its biggest ratings in its debut year with a solid 1.96 million viewers, notes ProFootballTalk. And its first broadcast of the 2022 season saw an 86% jump from its debut episode, per ESPN.

The show has spurred so much conversation among football fans that it inspired a "Saturday Night Live" spoof. And for good reason: the show has plenty of headline-worthy moments. For one, they've had an enviable celebrity guest list: Charles Barkley, Jon Stewart, and Snoop Dogg have all been on the show, per Sportscasting. There have also been some controversial moments, such as Eli giving double middle fingers (via the ManningCast) and Peyton angrily calling for a timeout 62 times during the show. Then there's the lore: conspiracies of a "Manningcast curse" began circulating after seven active players who appeared on the show subsequently lost their games. However, it was later broken by Saquon Barkley, per CBS News.

Peyton Manning is a game show host

Peyton Manning has brought out his inner Bob Barker for his game show, "Capital One College Bowl," in which Peyton, alongside his brother Cooper, quizzes college students on trivia as they vie for a $1 million academic scholarship, reports USA Today. In between questions, which run the gamut from cerebral to trivial, Peyton and Cooper exchange jokes to keep the pace going. Although neither Peyton nor Cooper could likely answer the questions themselves, it appears they've been brought in for the show's sports theme, where colleges compete in conferences and face off in a championship game.

Manning admitted that the show's topics are out of his wheelhouse and joked that he's had to prepare extensively in order to get the pronunciation of words right. But the student competitors were just happy to be around the NFL legend. One student, Ben Potter, said Manning was his favorite NFL player of all time and asked him to sign an old jersey of his, per Deseret News.

Peyton Manning made an 'SNL' cameo

It's safe to say most football fans and probably every Peyton Manning fan knows about the United Way "SNL" sketch. Prior to his 2007 hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live," Manning had a clean-cut, good-guy persona that verged on boring. He hilariously lit that image on fire in the sketch by hitting footballs at unsuspecting children and encouraging them to commit crimes. Those hoping for a repeat performance were disappointed to find Manning only revisited the show once for the show's 40th-anniversary special, where he was mostly there to introduce a segment and shared the stage with Derek Jeter, reports Bleacher Report.

But Manning later graced us with his comedic chops once again with another "SNL" sketch in January 2022. Manning appeared on a "Weekend Update" segment, presumably to talk about the NFL Playoffs, but out of nowhere, he started raving about Netflix's "Emily in Paris." The joke, of course, is that no one expects a guy like Manning to be a fan of a show like "Emily in Paris." The sketch was a hit and even "Emily in Paris" star Lily Collins said she was flattered by Manning's fangirling.

He made Omaha Productions into a powerhouse

If it hasn't been clear already, Peyton Manning is building a media empire. He founded his main venture, Omaha Productions, in 2020, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The "ManningCast" was its first production, but it has since been followed by a litany of projects. In 2022, Omaha signed a deal with Caesars Entertainment to produce digital and podcast content for the company, including a series with Cooper Manning called "One More Round." The partnership made a lot of sense since the casino giant owns the sports betting app Caesars Sportsbook, and Manning filmed a Super Bowl commercial for the company earlier in the year.

Another hit from Omaha has been ESPN's "Peyton's Places." The success of that show has already led to other Omaha documentary series hosted by athletes in other sports: his brother Eli Manning's "Eli's Places" for college football, Abby Wambach's "Abby's Places" for a soccer focus, and Vince Carter's "Vince's Places" for basketball, details Axios. Omaha also nabbed popular sports talk show host Pat McAfee to call 2022 college football games for an ESPN2 telecast, reports Forbes.

Peyton Manning hosted the CMAs

Peyton Manning continues to boost his award show-hosting resume with his November 9, 2022 appearance on the Country Music Association Awards. This time, Manning shared the stage with country singer Luke Bryan. Prior to the show, Manning released a statement, touting his love for country music, per Southern Living. But even if he didn't need to explain his presence at the CMA's, he's hardly the first pro football player to host in a similar capacity: J.J. Watt, Terry Bradshaw, and Don Meredith have all hosted a country music awards show, per Billboard. There's also the Carrie Underwood connection, as the country music star is the official voice of Sunday Night Football and belts out the show's opening theme song before every Sunday night game (via Instagram). Manning mentioned this during his monologue in order to set up a joke about Bryan, who Underwood famously side-eyed during the 2021 CMA's.

Manning also did a lot of the types of jokes he usually enjoys: making fun of his younger brother, Eli. There were at least three of those, notes ESPN. But Manning got great reviews, and his performance reminded everyone that he not only has a great football IQ but a great sense of humor, too (per SB Nation).

Peyton Manning was reportedly eyeing NFL ownership

Months before the Denver Broncos were officially put up for sale on February 1, 2022 (via ESPN), Peyton Manning's name popped up as a potential minority owner. As the franchise's last great quarterback, having won them a Super Bowl in the final four years of his career there, his association with the purchase of the team was inevitable. He's also stuck around in the Denver area since retiring. But in October 2021, Manning said (via ESPN) that although he was always concerned about the welfare of the team, he wasn't particularly interested in an ownership role. That seemed to change later that year when reports indicated that he was very much interested in holding a stake in the team, as well as a position in management — he was also considered a favorite to get both, per CBS News.

Not too long after Walmart heir Rob Walton and other investors, commonly referred to as the Walton-Penner group, were named as the winning bidders for the franchise, ESPN reported that they intended on bringing Manning on board. Along with receiving shares, Manning would become an advisor. But as of August 2022, nothing had materialized, and the Walton-Penner group instead brought in other minority investors, including Condoleezza Rice, per Broncos Wire. That doesn't mean it's over, however. In an October 2022 interview with Front Office Sports, Eli Manning hinted that his brother might still be brought on board.

He's increased his philanthropy and honored a friend

When discussing who was Peyton Manning's Jerry Rice or Randy Moss — in other words, who was his best go-to receiver — Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne would probably top the list. But that was with the Colts. When Manning went to the Broncos, he developed a remarkable connection with Demaryius Thomas, notes Bleacher Report

Thomas's raw talent combined with Manning's accuracy made them one of the most dangerous QB-WR tandems in the league, and they went to two Super Bowls together. But in 2021, Thomas shockingly died from a health issue at age 33, reports the NFL. After what had to be a devastating emotional loss, Manning established a needs-based scholarship at Georgia Tech in his memory through his charitable vehicle, the Peyback Foundation, per the NFL. Georgia Tech was Thomas' alma mater and is where August 8 is honored as Demaryius Thomas Day in honor of his jersey number.

Manning has already fueled a lot of change through Peyback since its start in 1999, including six scholarships donated in 2020 to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), per ABC News. In fact, he seems to prefer to donate anonymously. When former NFL and Grambling State University quarterback Doug Williams learned that a scholarship was established in his honor, he had to reach out to personal connections at the school in order to learn that the donor was Manning.

Peyton Manning remains as ubiquitous as ever

During his tenure as a quarterback, Peyton Manning was known for his off-the-field antics as much as his on-the-field antics. By that, we mean his constant presence in TV commercials. He did TV spots for Buick, Papa John's, Oreo, Gatorade, Nerf, Sprint, and much more, notes Bleacher Report. And although his football career ended, his commercial ubiquity has not. In 2022, he appeared in three — yes, three! — different Super Bowl commercials, including one for Caesars Entertainment in which he attended a dinner party with Eli and Archie Manning, one for Michelob ULTRA in which he went to the bowling alley, and one for NFL in which he appeared in animated form. Manning admitted himself that he felt he was part of the Super Bowl even though he wasn't playing, via People.

But Manning isn't limiting himself to commercials. He appeared in a 2017 episode of "Modern Family" as "Coach Gary," per IMDB. And after appearing on "Saturday Night Live" to jokingly rave about "Emily in Paris," Manning was about to appear on the show itself. He went to Paris with his wife, set to appear in a cameo for the show's third season, but then sadly discovered he was supposed to arrive in Provence, not Paris, per USA Today. Although he was disappointed in the lost opportunity, Manning can always depend on his endorsements. In 2019, a few years removed from his retirement, Manning made $3.35 million on marketing alone, reports CBS News.