Back to school: Peyton Manning surprises University of Tennessee online class

It’s been nearly 25 years since Peyton Manning last stepped foot in a University of Tennessee classroom. Earlier this week, he returned — sort of.

The former Broncos quarterback made a surprise appearance in a UT online class, with Professor John Haas first introducing him as “Mr. Thompson” before chastising him for being late for class. Manning went on to apologize, confessing he hasn’t been to class since 1996 or ’97, then gave words of encouragement to students who have been unable to attend classes on campus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The university recorded Manning’s cameo and posted it on its YouTube channel:

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“I realize this is probably not the ideal way you guys expected to spend your senior year,” Manning said. “I just encourage you to keep a positive attitude, keep working like you’re doing and try to take a little bit of the extra time you have to accomplish something else or help out somebody in need. There are a lot of people hurting out there during this time.

“Be thankful for what you have and just know the University of Tennessee is proud of you and going to support you every way they can, and Dr. Haas and his department are going to do the same thing.”

Once they recognized them, the students received Manning’s class crash with smiles and laughter, although at least one expressed mild frustration.

“Some of us didn’t even put on make this morning,” one student said.