Recipients of the Bart Starr award routinely exhibit exemplary character and leadership on and off the field. Manning has demonstrated qualities consistent with past winners of the Bart Star award through his philanthropic efforts during his NFL career.
Manning enthusiastically gives his time to an array of causes central to underprivileged youths. Manning’s PeyBack Foundation has raised more than $10 million to assist at risk youth in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana and Tennessee. St. Vincent Children’s Hospital has also felt the impact of Manning’s humanitarian efforts as he has donated nearly to $50 million to the facility.
Upon receiving the Bart Starr award, Manning said,
“I’m truly honored to be this year’s recipient and to follow so many worthy men who have come before me. “
Manning also articulated that the award was very special to him because the honorees are chosen by their contemporaries. Manning then stated his respect and admiration for finalists tight end Benjamin Watson, and defensive end Justin Tuck,
Manning went on to speak about the Bart Starr award naming the multiple accolades Starr won throughout his career such as two Super Bowl championships, NFL Player of the Year and his induction into the hall of fame. Manning equated the heart of a champion to Starr’s name and expounded upon what it means to have the heart of a champion. Manning said,
“At the heart of a champion is character. It doesn’t come with ease and is rarely foraged in quiet times. It takes trial and suffering to strengthen people at their core to aspire ambition and achieve any real measure of success.”
Manning also expressed his gratitude for the platform the NFL has awarded him. Manning said,
“It’s not the trophies, or the accolades, or the opportunities to be on national television on Sundays, it’s not the paychecks, Papa John’s Pizza, or even being lampooned on Saturday Night Live, what I appreciate most about this league is the platform this awesome game gives me. Because of football, I have an opportunity to impact the lives of everyday people.”
Manning’s acceptance speech was emblematic of why he was chosen for the award. He was humble, genuine and truly appreciative of the recognition. Manning’s compassion for others is palpable and is certainly a trait that makes him a champion on and off the field.
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