Manning, the only five-time NFL MVP and a two-time Super Bowl winner whose game was built on preparation, was reportedly making last-minute edits to his speech while Dallas Cowboys legend Drew Pearson was on stage delivering his to the Canton, Ohio, crowd.
Two of Manning’s biggest rivals in the AFC over his storied career were Baltimore Ravens legendary linebacker Ray Lewis and future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. So, Manning decided to kick off his speech by taking playful jabs at two of his greatest opponents.
“The 2021 induction class wants to thank those previous inductees who gave long-winded acceptance speeches,” said Manning, who was presented by his father, Archie. “Forcing us to have a whopping six minutes to recap our football careers. I want to give a special thanks to my old rival Ray Lewis for being here tonight. Ray just finished giving his speech that he started in 2018.”
Manning also shouted out Brady, the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, shortly after.
“Tom Brady… by the time he’s inducted to the Hall of Fame,” Manning said before Brady received a handful of boos from the crowd.
Brady turned to everyone and appeared to yell out, “What did I do wrong?”
Manning finished the joke after the boos stopped raining down on Brady.
“In his first year of eligibility in 2035, he’ll only have time to post his acceptance speech to his Instagram account,” Manning concluded.
By Manning’s calculations, if Brady is eligible for the first time in 2035, that means he will retire in 2030, which means he would hypothetically have to play for another nine years.
Manning wrapped up his speech by recycling a line he used during his retirement.
“Thank you, and God bless football,” he said.