Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion, 14-time Pro Bowl selection, and a Hall of Fame lock, so it’s no surprise that he has some high-profile celebrity fans. What is surprising, however, is how he meets some of those fans.
“It was my rookie year, I had just gotten drafted by the Colts, so there was a lot of attention, a lot of fanfare,” Manning explained on Wednesday’s “Tonight Show,” recalling a charity bowling tournament hosted by Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller. “I walked through, I’m kind of signing autographs and trying to navigate to my lane.”
“I get there and this guy comes up to me,” the 39-year-old NFL star continued. “He’s wearing like, denim-on-denim, jean shorts, jean jacket, and he’s like, ‘Hey Peyton, my name’s Justin, I’m from Memphis, I’m a huge fan of yours.’”
It wasn’t a very “specific introduction,” Manning recalled. Before being drafted into the NFL, the quarterback was a star player for the University of Tennessee.
“I thought he worked at the bowling alley,” he added, remembering that he asked the “fan” to grab him a pair of bowling shoes. “It was Justin Timberlake.”
The two have since reconnected — Timberlake even took to Twitter to praise Manning’s Super Bowl victory on Sunday — but according to the football star, the singer hasn’t let him live down that first meeting. “He reminds me of that all the time,” he added with a laugh.
One person who didn’t seem to be thrilled with the Broncos win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday was Manning’s younger brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was captured in a meme-worthy moment, standing stone-faced as his family celebrated around him, after the final play.
“Eli and I have always supported each other,” Manning answered, diplomatic at first. “I think Eli was analyzing the game and kind of into the game, like I would be, as if he was playing it.”
But then, the two decided to have some fun with it, as the quarterback told the late night host that he “recognized” the look on his little brother’s face from past highlights of his life. With the help of a cardboard cutout, Manning relayed the day he got drafted, the birth of his children, and his return to football after serious neck surgery — complete with reaction shots from his brother.