NFL: Peyton Manning jabs Tom Brady, Charles Woodson sings to mom in HOF speeches

Class of 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Peyton Manning speaks at his enshrinement Sunday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
1 of 5 | Class of 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Peyton Manning speaks at his enshrinement Sunday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 9 (UPI) -- NFL icons Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson provided some of the most memorable moments of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Manning jabbed former rival Tom Brady, while Woodson sang to his mom.

Manning, Woodson, Calvin Johnson, John Lynch, Drew Pearson, Tom Flores and Alan Faneca gave their Hall of Fame speeches Sunday in Canton, Ohio.


Troy Polamalu, Cliff Harris, Steve Atwater, Paul Tagliabue, Steve Hutchinson, Donnie Shell, Isaac Bruce, Jimbo Covert, Edgerrin James, Harold Carmichael, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher spoke Saturday as part of the postponed class of 2020 enshrinement ceremony.


Pearson, who spent his 11-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, gave the speech first Sunday in Canton. Former teammate and Cowboys legend Roger Staubach presented the All-Pro wide receiver.

Pearson, who retired after the 1983 season, was eligible for Hall of Fame induction for three decades.

"The wait is over! How about that. ... A tough long journey on the road less traveled," Pearson said.

Flores, the longtime coach of the Oakland Raiders, gave the second speech Sunday. The two-time Super Bowl champion led the Raiders for nine seasons. He spent his final three seasons, from 1992 through 1994, with the Seattle Seahawks.

Current Raiders owner Mark Davis presented Flores.

"I was always happy in the world of football," Flores said. "And now because of this honor, I'll be part of it forever and forever. Realize that. That is incredible."

Manning stepped up for the next speech. His father, Archie Manning, presented him for the crowd. The 14-time Pro Bowl selection, seven-time All-Pro, five-time MVP and two-time Super Bowl champion is widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.


Manning ranks third all-time in touchdown passes, passing yards and total offense, behind only Brady and Drew Brees. He ranks first in game-winning drives, comebacks and sack percentage.

The 18-year veteran spent 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and four seasons with the Denver Broncos. He retired after the 2015 season.

Manning started his speech with a joke about former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his long enshrinement speech from 2018. He then spotted Brady in the crowd.

"And speaking of rivals, my good friend Tom Brady is here tonight," Manning said. "By the time Tom Brady is inducted in his first year of eligibility in the year 2035, he'll only have time to post his acceptance speech on his Instagram account."

The crowd then booed the longtime Manning rival. Brady is entering his 22nd season and second with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"What did I do wrong?" Brady asked the crowd.

Manning went on to thank his family and teammates. He also urged the crowd to commit to the future of football.


"The future of this game is ours to shape," Manning said. "We just need to take tomorrow on our shoulders as readily as we donned our pads before each game.

"Let this moment become a cherished memory, and then remember: A legacy is only worthwhile when there is a future to fuel."

Lynch gave the fourth speech of the night. His son, Jake, and former coach Herm Edwards welcomed him to the stage. Lynch spent his 15-year career with the Buccaneers and Broncos. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champion.

The star safety, turned San Francisco 49ers general manager, started his speech with a joke about the tough assignment of following Manning.

"I want to state the NFL is the greatest metaphor for life that I've ever known," Lynch said. "It challenges each and every one of us that plays this great game in every way possible.

"Everything about the game is hard and tests your will. It compels every man that puts on a uniform to not only do their best, but to be their best.


"In football we quickly discover we're only as strong as our weakest link, and if we're to achieve the goals that we've set for ourselves, we must all learn to play together and pull together."

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Alan Faneca and Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson gave the final three speeches.

Former Lions teammate Derrick Moore presented Johnson. Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward presented Faneca. Woodson's mother, Georgia Woodson, presented her son.

Woodson, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All-Pro and 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, also thanked his family, friends, coaches and teammates.

He started his speech with a song for his mom.

"Momma, you know I love you," Woodson sang. "Momma, you are the queen of my heart. Your love is like tears from the stars."

Woodson joked that he "lost a bet" after the song and got choked up as he started his speech. He credited his mom for his passion, work ethic and for raising him as a single mother.

"People say, 'a woman can't raise a man.' I call [expletive]," Woodson said. "My momma raised two of them.

"I grew up an hour and a half west from here in Fremont, Ohio. It's where I picked up my first pair of cleats to play this great game that we play. And I feel like it's so fitting that today, I put those cleats down for the last time here in Canton and I walk into the Hall of Fame."


Woodson also got choked up when he spoke about his sister, Shannon, who couldn't attend the ceremony because she is battling COVID-19.

Woodson and Johnson joined Manning as first-ballot entries into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Longtime Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Carolina Panthers great Steve Smith and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Torry Holt are among the former players eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2022.

Latest Headlines