Peyton Manning may be retired from football, but he’s still impacting the game in positive ways.
The two-time Super Bowl champion and sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback teamed up with Riddell to reward 18 schools that are committed to teaching smarter football tactics on and off the field.
The “18 in 18” Smarter Football equipment grant was given to one college team, 12 high school programs, two middle school teams and three youth organizations across America, so they could buy safer helmets, pads, and more for their respective programs.
It was a big deal for teams, like Poinciana High in Osceola, Florida, that were managing a tight budget.
“One of the things when I got here [was] we had a pretty bad equipment situation. We had a lot of needs in our program,” head coach Phillip Prior told the Orlando Sentinel. “We didn’t have enough helmets for all of our kids. We didn’t have enough shoulder pads. Our kids were using youth-size shoulder pads we borrowed from a youth program.
“We sort of had a decision to make when I got here. Did we want to purchase helmets or did we want to purchase shoulder pads? It was sort of one or the other.”
Poinciana High ended up receiving $10,000 from Manning and Riddell so they could easily purchase both.
All of the schools that received the grants were notified by Manning in early September via a YouTube message.
“I am proud to help Riddell shine a light on these outstanding football programs,” Manning said in a press release. “From Apple Springs High School utilizing its ‘H-Awareness’ around heat and hydration, and USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, to the Madras High School White Buffaloes leveraging the values and lessons from football to be more productive members of society as part of the D.E.S.I.R.E. initiative, Smarter Football is stronger than ever. I hope we continue to see more teams follow the lead of this incredible collection of coaches, players, administrators and parents.”
Manning even surprised Rogersville middle school in Tennessee during one of their practices to personally deliver the new equipment.
Clearly, Manning is still a star quarterback. However, instead of calling audibles, he’s pointing football in the right direction — where player safety is valued.