Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning, Steve Spurrier appear on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

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After sailing into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion, Peyton Manning is sure to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few more years. He may not have to wait much longer to earn a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. Manning is among the 15 first-year candidates appearing on this year’s ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, released today by the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame. He may also be going in with one of his former rivals, Steve Spurrier.

Manning is finally eligible this year because he no longer plays professional football. Being active in the professional game prohibits a player from being eligible for the ballot. Manning is joined by Marshall Faulk, Troy Polamalu, Tony Gonzalez, Craig Heyward, Jake Plummer, and Troy Vincent among others. Manning should be a lock for induction given his accolades while at Tennessee. Manning was a consensus First Team All-American and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1997 and took home the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award while setting Tennessee records for all-time passing yards and touchdowns.

Spurrier is a virtual lock to be inducted as a head coach after stepping in to his own retirement in the midst of the 2015 season at South Carolina. Spurrier owns the most wins at Florida and South Carolina and has the second-most all-time wins in the SEC, trailing only one Bear Bryant. Spurrier led the Gators to the 1996 national championship and six SEC crowns and has accumulated nine conference coach of the year awards and 21 bowl appearances between his stops at Duke, Florida and South Carolina.

You can see the full release and the names of all players on this year’s ballot HERE. The announcement of the Class of 2017 will be announced on January 6, 2017 in Tampa. The new class will be inducted later that year on December 5, 2017 in New York City.

Tennessee artist pays tribute to Peyton Manning after Super Bowl win

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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It has become a Tennessee tradition to see The Rock painted before or after big games during the football season, but this week the noteworthy spot on Tennessee’s campus is simply paying tribute to Vol for life and two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Peyton Manning.

The artist who takes the time to paint The Rock is Payton Marie Miller, and she has become quite the sensation around campus with her artistic twist on Tennessee’s campus. Coming from a family with a strong rooting interest in the Vols, it is no coincidence her name is Payton.

“My dad is a huge Tennessee fan and one day my mom just randomly asked him if he liked the name Payton,” Miller explained in a profile story by Rocky Top Insider last year. “I think it was right after THE Peyton had just finished up at Tennessee and my dad jumped all over it.”

Here is what she did to The Rock for Senior Day last season…

Here are some of the other images of The Rock from last season…

A not-so-surprising Heisman Trophy first in NFC Championship Game

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The NFL’s conference championship weekend is set with another bout between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the AFC and the top two teams in the NFC, Arizona and Carolina, going toe-to-toe for the NFC championship. While there will be plenty of attention given to yet another meeting between Manning and Brady, the NFC Championship Game is making some history with a college football twist. With Cam Newton of the Panthers and Carson Palmer of the Cardinals set to start in the NFC Championship Game, we will see the first NFL postseason meeting between two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.

At first glance, that comes across as a surprising factoid to consume, but it should not come across as a major shock. Given the track record of Heisman Trophy winner sin the NFL, we already know the Heisman Trophy is far from a guarantee for sustained NFL success. This is especially true for quarterbacks, although the jury is still out on a number of the more recent Heisman-winning QBs (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota offer some good promise, and who knows if there is still time to save Robert Griffin III, for example). Also keep in mind that for the majority of the history of the Heisman Trophy, running backs were the dominant position before the turn of the 21st century gave way to quarterbacks taking control of the award more often than not.

Take a look through Heisman history and look at the quarterbacks who have won the stiff-arm trophy over the years. Just two quarterbacks won the award in the 1960s, Navy’s Roger Staubach and Notre Dame’s John Huarte. Staubach went on to have a stellar career. Huarte? Not so much. Two quarterbacks won the Heisman in the 1970s, and once again the careers of Jim Plunkett of Stanford and Pat Sullivan of Auburn took drastically different paths. Of the three quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy in the 1980s (Doug Flutie, Andre Ware, Vinny Testaverde), only Miami’s Testaverde proved to have a sustained NFL career, which included a couple of solid runs here and there, but he almost never faced another Heisman-winning QB during his lengthy career.

The 1990s saw four quarterbacks win the Heisman Trophy. Ty Detmer was essentially a career backup. Gino Torretta‘s run in the NFL was brief. Danny Wuerffel did not fare too much better. And Charlie Ward went on to play in the NBA instead of the NFL. Ward may have been the best NFL QB out of that bunch had he focused on the NFL instead.

Even the quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy since 2000 have been farther from competing for an NFL conference championship more often than not. This weekend, 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer just won his first postseason game as a starting quarterback since blowing out Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl. 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke has an NFC Championship ring, but that came as a backup. 2001 winner Eric Crouch played four years in the NFL with three teams and ended his playing career in the short-lived UFL with the Omaha Nighthawks. 2003 winner Jason White was not even drafted and stepped away due to bad knees. 2004 winner Matt Leinart never lived up to his perceived potential in Arizona and moved on to Houston, Oakland and Buffalo before getting into TV. 2006 winner Troy Smith was a career back-up, for the most part, behind Steve McNair and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Sam Bradford has been plagued by injuries and Robert Griffin III is looking to rejuvenate his career in a new situation in 2016. And I’m even going to spare you the talk about Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel.

One more piece of information to keep in mind was the AFC and NFC Championship Game structure was not utilized until 1970 when the NFL merged with the AFL. For an award that was first handed out in 1935, that cuts out a number of quarterbacks from even having the possibility to play in an NFL conference championship game (Davey O’BrienAngelo Bertelli, Lee Horvath, Johnny Lujack, Paul Hornung, Terry Baker).

So yes, it is surprising we have not seen a matchup of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks in an NFL postseason game before, but it is not at all shocking given the history of the Heisman Trophy. And no, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never won the Heisman Trophy either.

Denver Broncos conduct a symphony playing college fight songs

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College fight songs are cool. They are what helps separate college football from the NFL. And let’s face it, college fight songs are better than stadium jock jams every day of the week (especially on Saturdays). Over the years we have seen plenty of college football players lead their school’s marching band in a celebratory rendition of the school fight song, and that is always a specioal moment.

The Denver Broncos went the extra yard and organized an opportunity for members of their football team’s roster to lead the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in symphonic arrangements of their various alma mater’s fight songs, and some of them even managed to stay on the down beat! Wisconsin’s Montee Ball starts off well but starts to fall behind the beat, although he did manage to get back in time at one point. As for Peyton Manning, well, for some reason he held his conductor’s baton the wrong way [insert Super Bowl opening play against Seattle here].

Unfortunately we cannot embed the video here, but feel free to check out the video hosted by the Broncos’ team website.

Bidding farewell to David Letterman

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Tonight marks the end of a truly remarkable run. David Letterman will air his final episode of The Late Show and will step aside from the late night talk gig for good. There is no question Letterman had quite the impact on the late night talk circuit over the years and he always ventured into the world of sports. So the folks across the SportsTalk sites decided to serve up some of our favorite moments and memories from Letterman’s run on late night.

Over the years Letterman offered plenty of air time to stars of the college football world, with the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York offering some of the best of the best to stop by for an interview or to read a top ten list. In 1997 Tennessee’s Peyton Manning made his first of many late night talk show appearances while in town for the Heisman Trophy festivities. Manning did not win the Heisman Trophy that season (that honor went to Michigan’s Charles Woodson), but the future all-pro and hall of fame lock did charm Letterman and participate in Letterman’s unorthodox skills competition.

You can see some of Letterman’s notable sports moments on the show as selected by the Sports Talk writers, and be sure to check out Joe Posnanski‘s terrific feature on Letterman, the five-tool host.