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Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever squeeze into a helmet and sling a pigskin, no doubt about it. He’s also a caring individual, which is a unique trait for a superstar athlete.
Over the 24 years of college and professional football playing, Peyton has penned many – likely hundreds – of letters to teammates, coaches, trainers and more, thanking them for a multitude of things. As Manning writes in his letter about the final “Late Show with David Letterman,” he admired Dave for thanking all the people behind the scenes, just as No. 18 had for so many years.
Manning appeared on Letterman to take part in the famed “Top 10” with a laundry list of the best comedians in the world. He was the only athlete, but still held his own.
This is roughly the first half of Manning’s letter. Follow the link at the bottom for the entire piece on SI.com.
NEW YORK — I’ve been a part of some pretty special things and have had some great moments in my life. But for so many reasons, standing in the Ed Sullivan Theater on Wednesday night and being part of the 6,028th and final Late Show with David Letterman, well, it’s something I’ll never, ever forget.
I love David Letterman. Always have. I consider myself a Letterman guy, because I’ve never done any other late-night show but his. I’ve been a big fan of comedy my whole life, and when I watch him, I’ve just always felt that he hits the right note—all the time. He sure has been a big part of my life.
So to be asked to be a part of the final Top 10 List, and to do it with Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Barbara Walters, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, and Bill Murray—what an incredible honor. I’m standing in that line, getting ready to do the segment, and I look around at these people and think, Am I a stand-in for Julia Roberts or Tom Hanks? Am I here only because they couldn’t make it?
The Top 10 List was, “Things I’ve always wanted to say to Dave.” I was number three, and the writers wrote me a good line.
I said, “Dave, you are to comedy what I am … to comedy.”
After that, I slipped into the back of the theater to watch the rest of the show. Being a high school and college player for eight years, then an NFL player for 18 years, I really appreciated Dave spending the time to thank all the people who worked on the show behind the scenes. The writers, all the people on the set, the makeup people, everybody. It’s just like in the NFL, where your equipment guys and your trainers and so many people are crucial to your success.
Standing there watching the end, it just felt like I was watching a part of history, something really important.
It’s funny, but my favorite memory of Dave—and what I think says so much about him as a person—didn’t come from one of my appearances on the show. (I was on four times as a guest, and then again on Wednesday’s finale.) It came soon after I signed with the Broncos—actually, on the day before the draft in 2012, when the Colts were sitting there with the first pick.
That day, I was working out at the Broncos’ facility, trying to get used to my new world and learn Denver’s offense. I got word that Dave was trying to reach me, and so I get on the phone with him. He explains that they’re going to have Andrew Luck on the show, and what they want to do is present him with his new Colts jersey, like they’d be the ones telling him he was a Colt.
He said to me, “I don’t want to do it if it makes you uncomfortable at all.”
I said, “Dave, it doesn’t matter what I think. You do what you feel is best for the show.”
Really, I didn’t care. Whatever Dave wanted to do was fine, but he said, “That’s it! We’re not doing it. Forget it. It’s done.”
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