STILLWATER — As a Super Bowl Champion and five-time NFL MVP, Peyton Manning is used to being a game changer.
When the Denver Broncos’ quarterback spoke to 4,250 people at Oklahoma State University’s Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday, having a game-changer mentality in life was a big part of his message.
Manning said that’s the mindset he took into the huddle in his first game as a Tennessee Volunteer.
Jerry Colquitt, UT’s starter, was injured, forcing Manning to take over as a freshman playing at UCLA on national television.
Manning said he immediately thought of what his father, Archie, told him: “Son, if you ever get in the huddle, it’s your job to be the leader and take control.”
With his team already down 21-0 in the first half, Manning came in and said he gave a motivational message to his team.
An offensive lineman interrupted.
“Hey freshman, shut the blank up and call a play,” Manning recalled being told.
Manning only played one series and the Vols lost that game, but as Manning’s insanely successful career indicates, he didn’t let that change his attitude.
In a 25-minute speech, Manning drew from past experiences on and off the field to craft a message with a simple central idea: “This is your time,” Manning said. “Own it.”
Manning emphasized taking control of life and cherishing every day. That’s what he called being a game changer.
He also talked at length about the importance of leadership, setting goals and valuing everyday experiences.
“I don’t see life as a straight line,” Manning said. “I see it more as the squiggly lines my 3-year-old twins draw on a piece of paper.
“Remember to enjoy the journey, not the desired destination once you get there.”
Although most of Manning’s speech was motivational, he eventually showed his lighter, humorous side in a 35-minute Q-and-A session.
Caitlin McGee, a senior speech pathology major at OSU, enjoyed the event.
“He seems like an all-around, stand-up guy, and I think that’s why a lot of us came,” McGee said. “I think he proved that in his speech.”
The contract between Manning and the OSU Student Government Association Speaker’s Board indicates Manning received $105,000 for the speech. The large figure caused some controversy at OSU, and Jon Gill, a secondary education sophomore, said he doesn’t think it was worth it.
“Personally, I don’t think it was a good decision,” Gill said. “That’s a little much, but it was cool and getting someone like that might bring more publicity.”
Speaker’s Board representative Patrick Alland said he doesn't regret the decision.
“I would do it again,” Alland said. “The way Speaker’s Board is set up, those funds are allocated through SGA to bring in high-profile speakers. As a Speaker’s Board, it’s not our job to decide where the money goes. We were given a task and told to spend it how you see fit.”
Regardless of the cost, Manning got a positive reception. Unlike that game against UCLA, he didn’t have to worry about someone telling him to shut up.
“I thought that was really remarkable how he tied (his speech) in to the average college student,” Alland said. “Because Peyton Manning wasn’t the average college student, isn’t the average person.”