Peyton Williams Manning was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the second of three sons of quarterback Archie Manning, who enjoyed an impressive career in the National Football League, primarily as quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
Peyton Manning recalls an upbringing balanced between his father's fame and solid family values. Archie Manning didn't pressure his sons into competitive sports, but never hesitated to offer support when needed. Basketball, baseball and football were always part of the Manning household, and Peyton attributes his early athletic development to the shared family enjoyment of these sports. He believes his passion for football, in particular, stems from the fundamental lessons his father taught him.
The oldest Manning brother, Cooper, was another mentor to his younger brothers, and excelled in high school football as a wide receiver. By his senior year, he was All-State, catching everything thrown by sophomore quarterback Peyton. Cooper was heavily recruited by Division I-A schools, ultimately deciding on his father's alma mater, the University of Mississippi. In 1992, Cooper Manning was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a congenital condition of the spinal column, which abruptly ended his plan for a professional football career. He went on to recover from successful surgery, graduate from Mississippi, and develop a flourishing business and family life in New Orleans.
Peyton Manning's impressive stats (7,207 passing yards and 92 touchdowns) at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans were enough to attract the attention of the highest-ranking Division I-A college football teams; as a starter, he held a 34-5 record. In his junior year, while visiting off-season training with his father, he jumped into the quarterback spot for New Orleans Saints receivers as they practiced running patterns. The following year, Peyton was the number one recruited quarterback in the nation. He was expected to follow his father and brother to Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, a distinguished football school with a solid program for developing a top high school player into a top NFL draft pick. But Peyton diverged from his father's path and chose the University of Tennessee, a leading football school that regularly plays Saturday games to crowds in excess of 100,000. Tennessee became the perfect platform for Manning to showcase his natural talents. Led by Coach Phillip Fulmer, Manning's game matured, along with his talent for team leadership.
By his junior year, Manning had earned enough academic credits to graduate. An All-American, his impressive stats drew the attention of the NFL (11,201 passing yards, 863 complete passes and 89 touchdowns). Breaking again from expectation, he decided to stay at the University of Tennessee for his senior year and forgo the 1997 NFL draft -- giving up a likely first round draft and guaranteed signing bonus. Instead, he moved off-campus to enjoy his final year, developing friendships he prizes to this day.
Manning's senior year stats were again impressive (3819 yards, 36 touchdowns). Before completing his college athletic career, he received the prestigious Sullivan Award, given to the nation's premier college athletes, not only on the basis of athletic ability, but on qualities of character and leadership as well. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor's degree in Speech Communications. In the spring of 1998, as the NFL's number one overall draft pick, he was signed by the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning soon found his rhythm with the Colts, leading them to impressive regular season records and seven Pro Bowls. After Tony Dungy joined the Colts as head coach in 2002, the Colts were reliable winners during the regular season, but repeatedly met defeat in post season play. For three consecutive years, the Colts lost their conference championship, shutting them out of the Super Bowl.
The Colts fell to the New England Patriots in the 2003 AFC Championship (24-14). They faced their nemesis again in the 2004 playoffs, but they never saw the end zone, and suffered a rough loss (20-3). In 2005, they had finished their regular season (14-2) seemingly ready to erase the memories of their post season losses; but they found their home field advantage, and their shot at the Super Bowl, slipping away by the fourth quarter, as they again suffered defeat, this time at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers (21-18).
In 2004, Peyton's younger brother, Eli, was drafted into the NFL from the University of Mississippi. They met on the field as professional NFL quarterbacks for the first time in the 2006 season opener. Eli Manning, quarterbacking for the New York Giants, had home field advantage, but the Colts took an early lead in the first quarter and never allowed the Giants to get ahead. In the second quarter, however, Eli completed a pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress and scored the first of three touchdowns against the Colt defense. Peyton Manning later remarked that he usually wants his defense to hit the other quarterback as hard as possible, but he didn't want to see his brother hit that hard. He felt a sense of pride in Eli, who threw two touchdown passes against Peyton's own defense. On game day, the passionate and competitive sportsmen, although brothers foremost, each wanted to walk away victorious, but Peyton's Colts beat Eli's Giants, 26-21.
By 2006, Manning had seen enough of conference championship play to know his time had come. He continued to break NFL records with staggering stats. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to have thrown over 12,000 yards in his first three seasons. He achieved 100 touchdowns by his 56th career game and dominated the Colt record books, holding the top seven totals for most passing yards within a single season. Tenacity and tireless conditioning allowed him 128 consecutive game starts.
On February 4, 2007, Peyton Manning's passion and talent for the game -- combined with hard work, dedicated training and mental readiness -- paid off at last, as he led the Colts to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears (29-17). Standing beside Coach Dungy, Manning was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLI.
In the off season, Peyton Manning fulfills the typical obligations of a professional athlete -- endorsements, public appearances and television commercials -- but his work ethic compels him to excel in his off-the-field activities as well. In 1999, he established the PeyBack Foundation -- supporting schools and youth programs in New Orleans, Louisiana and Tennessee -- and regularly participates in sponsored events to ensure its success. The Foundation hosts thousands of underprivileged children at events throughout the year -- such as Colts home games, Thanksgiving dinner for children in foster care, and Christmas dinner for Indianapolis's inner city youth. In 2000, the annual PeyBack Classic was launched, enabling five inner-city Indianapolis high school football teams to play in the city's RCA Dome. Peyton and his father also participate in Play It Smart, an educational program funded by the National Football Foundation for high school football players from disadvantaged environments. All the Manning men participate in the Manning Passing Academy, a family-owned and managed football camp.
On St. Patrick's Day in 2001, Peyton Manning married long-time girlfriend Ashley Thompson. The couple maintains close ties to family members in Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, while they continue to reside in Indianapolis.