Peyton Manning will put his lucrative, commercial-making career on pause this summer, just long enough to host the ESPYs in July.
The former NFL quarterback on Tuesday was named the host of the 25th edition of ESPN’s awards show, which airs July 12.
“It’s an honor to be asked to host The ESPYS, and it’s even more meaningful that it’s the 25th year for this incredible event,” Manning said in a statement released by the network. “The ESPYS have been a part of my life during my entire career — I can still remember attending my very first show back in 1998 before my rookie season in the NFL. Over the years, The ESPYS have celebrated some of my favorite athletes and sports moments. In addition to recognizing a special year in sports, the 25th ESPYS will allow us to go down memory lane and pay tribute to those who have played such a huge part in this program’s success.”
And maybe Manning, who was well-spoofed in 2016, will even bring some funny to the event.
The only five-time MVP in NFL history, Manning retired in 2015 after an 18-year career that was notable for his accomplishments on the field and his zingers and self-deprecating charisma in TV appearances. His stint as a “Saturday Night Live” host set a standard for athlete-hosts with his United Way parody.
The ESPYs also serve a good cause, as Manning pointed out.
“Most of all, I’m looking forward to celebrating the winners of the Arthur Ashe Award, the Pat Tillman Award and the Jimmy V Award, which headlines The ESPYS’ great tradition of raising money and awareness for the V Foundation for Cancer Research,” Manning said. “That’s what has always stood out to me about The ESPYS — it honors great athletes and great teams while serving a larger purpose supporting a very important cause.”
John Cena, the host last year, sent a little bit of advice Manning’s way, telling him that the show is “truly a wonderful program”:
“Laugh, cry, and think,” as Jimmy V would say. It is a night where those who follow sports get to see heroes from all forms of sport converge into one platform. I couldn’t think of a better host for this event than Peyton Manning. Mr. Manning’s career defines the fire in which sports heroes are forged. Many times we have seen athletes with tremendous potential show wonderful flashes of brilliance, then just like a shooting star, they are gone.
“Mr. Manning has a gift for his sport, no doubt, but it is his dedication to his craft, and never giving up when faced with setbacks that has led him to be one of the few names always associated with the game of football. On top of that, his reputation for kindness and professionalism are the benchmark for not only athletes, but all of us.
“Going the extra mile to be courteous is something that is never forgotten by those it affects. I say that from experience.
“Mr. Manning was one of the few people who took some extra time to speak with me about sports and life. Hosting last year was a very nervous venture for me as I was well aware my audience wouldn’t be an easy one. Mr. Manning’s casual conversation helped greatly in putting my mind at ease, and he more than likely has no idea, he was just being himself.
“He is very involved with the show itself, going so far as to thank its producer upon receiving an award last year — just another selfless act of a well-rounded individual who has great perspective of the entire “field” in front of him. I feel it’s about time the world sees a bit more of it.
“Mr. Manning, it was an honor to warm the stage up for you last year. Just go out there and do what you do, it’s sure to be an amazing evening.”