Peyton Manning is one of the greatest and most famous football players of all-time. He has hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in countless commercials and, oh yeah, won a couple of Super Bowls. Now, he’s hosting his own series on ESPN+.
The second season of Peyton’s Places is in full swing and it follows the NFL great around the country as he explores the history of the National Football League, one piece at a time. For this 12th episode, titled “Speed Kills,” Peyton talks with two of the fastest players the NFL has ever seen.
The episode opens with Peyton visiting the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to speak with former wide receiver Willie Gault. After Peyton talks about the importance of speed on the football field, the two discuss Gault’s career as both a track athlete and a football player. They share a bond because both former football stars attended the University of Tennessee. In fact, we see some incredible highlights of Gault’s speed as a Volunteer as well as his work as a trackstar, winning gold at the 1983 World Championships alongside his teammate Carl Lewis.
They then get into Gault’s NFL career a bit, starting with him being drafted by the Bears. We see a great deal of his highlights, watching him burn defensive backs over and over again. Peyton credits Gault for some of the success of the Bears’ legendary running game, led by all-time great running back Walter Payton.
The next topic is very different from the typical football highlights. Peyton asks Gault about how the “Super Bowl Shuffle” came to be. Gault explains that he met someone who ran a record label and the hardest part about getting the song and video made was actually convincing his teammates to participate. Believe it or not, the “Super Bowl Shuffle” was actually nominated for a Grammy Award, which eventually went to Prince instead. It’s nice to see a show that dives so deeply into various aspects of football history not skip over one of the strangest moments in football history.
And speaking of strange, Gault eventually got his chance to take part in the Olympics after winning a suit against the committee, allowing professional athletes to compete. That allowed him to participate in the 1988 games, but not in track and field. Instead, Gault competed on the USA bobsled team. Peyton points out how strange a transition that is and Gault explains that he wanted to participate in both Summer and Winter Olympics and had to look fro a sport he could do in the winter. He eventually realized he could push and hold on for dear life, making bobsled the right sport for him.
Next, because Peyton can only be serious for so long, he decides to test his handoff skills in a relay race. Gault tries to teach Peyton the technique of passing the baton to your next teammate and Peyton, well, Peyton tries his best. It’s yet another fun gag that keeps the show light.
Gault then decides to show off some research he has done on the fastest players in the history of the NFL. He shows Peyton a list of the fastest 100m times ever run by NFL players, with himself being third on the list. He also lists Washington cornerback Darryl Green, who Gault says he would always check his schedule to see if he was matched up against. He says he and Green were very equal and credits Green with brining out the best in him. Coincidentally, Green is the next player with whom Peyton flies out to speak.
Peyton heads to Washington DC to meet with Green/ The quarterback asks Green why he decided to play defense and not offense. He jokes that he preferred to intercept quarterbacks like Peyton. We get a look at Green’s time running track in high school, in which he blows away his opposition.
Peyton brings up the fact the NFL officials used to signal the end of a game with a pistol, but mostly only so he can make the joke that Green was “faster than a speeding bullet.” We revisit the “NFL’s Fastest Man Competition,” where Green competed in the final against Gault. Green upset Gault, an Olympic-calibur sprinter, to be crowned “the fastest man in the NFL.”
Peyton points out that, while speed is very valuable on the football field, it’s not enough to just be fast. Green explains that he worked very hard on his footwork and that, combined with his speed, is what made him great. It’s great that these two got into this topic because it is a common misconception that a player can be great in the NFL simply by being fast. Green quickly dispels that idea here.
They then get into the candy Green was best known for: the Tootsie Roll. The Hall of Fame corner explains that a statistician would give him Tootsie Rolls before the game. One time, while the camera was on him, he pulled one from his sock and said “Tootsie Rolls make you run fast.” He says people began sending boxes and boxes of Tootsie Rolls to the park and he didn’t understand why, until he saw himself on NFL Network saying his famous Tootsie Roll line. He also admitted that they do not make you run fast, but he does eat them.
Peyton asks Green if he could have beaten Gault’s legendary track teammate Carl Lewis. Green points out a bunch of events in which they just missed out the opportunity to race each other. They did finally compete in the “World’s Fastest Athlete” competition, where they held baseball, football and track events. Green went on to win the whole event.
Peyton points out that Green’s career was 20 years long and they eventually got to play against each other. He does admit though that he knew better than to throw Green’s way. On the topic of his longevity, Green explains that you do have to constantly work at it to be able to consistently be so fast.
Finally, Peyton puts Greens speed to one more test, as he times a 40-yard dash for the 60-year-old former NFL star. Green and Peyton then lineup to run one more sprint, but not before they take a selfie.
Another great episode of Peyton’s Places is in the books. This wasn’t the most informative episode in terms of actual football history, but it was certainly an interesting topic to take a deeper dive on. Green and Gault were both very entertaining guests and made for a fun episode.
Peyton’s Places is available now on ESPN+. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month and can cancel at any time.