JACKSON, Tenn. – April 22, 2009 – Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning offered lessons from football that can apply to life’s challenges during his keynote address April 20 at Union University’s first Roy L. White Golf and Gala.
“Most people think leadership is a position, but it’s not,” Manning said. “Leadership is influence.”
The banquet event drew about 1,300 people to the Carl Perkins Civic Center and completed a day that began with a golf tournament at the Jackson Country Club.
“The purpose of this event was to introduce Union University to a new constituency,” Union President David S. Dockery said. “It provided an opportunity for us to tell the story about the distinctive Union mission in a different context to an audience that, for the most part, has not had opportunity to see Union in a close way in recent years.”
John Dancy, former NBC senior correspondent and 1959 Union graduate, spoke at a breakfast that kicked off the golf tournament.
“News is about change,” Dancy said. “If nothing changes, there is no news.”
Dancy observed some of the significant changes he’s seen in his lifetime – from segregated facilities when he was growing up in Jackson, to a black president. Germany, the country that gave birth to the Holocaust, is now a working democracy. Dancy also cited advances in medical care that have eradicated such diseases as smallpox and polio.
Dancy was the most senior correspondent at NBC News prior to his retirement in 1996. In his 30-year career at the network, Dancy covered every major beat in Washington, and served twice as a foreign correspondent, based in Berlin, London and Moscow.
Manning, a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, is a product of the University of Tennessee. He was the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft and has made eight Pro Bowl appearances.
Manning is the only NFL quarterback to throw 25 or more touchdown passes in 10 consecutive seasons, and is the first to throw for more than 3,000 yards in the first 10 seasons of a career.
In his address, Manning said the challenges facing members of the audience require courage, innovation and determination. He provided a few lessons of “sustainable leadership” that he has learned through his career. Among those principles:
In a question-and-answer session following his speech, Manning addressed such issues as the best defensive player he faces (Ray Lewis), guaranteed NFL contracts (he opposes them: “I feel like you have to perform to get compensated,” Manning said) and the possibility of a playoff in college football (he sees the appeal, but is concerned about what such a system would mean to the schooling of the players).
At the golf tournament, the Brasfield Construction team of Jeff Brasfield, Bill Walker, Chuck Thompson and David Salyers took first place and won the grand prize of a golf trip for four to Scotland.