Former University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning decided to crash an online lecture at his alma mater that was being taught by his favorite professor to lift the spirits of the attending students. Professor John Haas naturally kept the appearance a surprise, introducing the ex-Colt and Bronco as Mr. Thompson and chiding him for being late for class. The quarterback then appeared on the screen, apologizing for being out of school since 1996.
The whole experience was recorded and produced as a video for YouTube by the university.
It's clear that not everyone immediately recognized one of the university's most famous alums -- to their credit, his claim to fame involved him wearing a helmet over his head for his career -- but there are still a fair amount of surprised faces. Eventually, all the students came to crack some sort of smile as Manning gave words of encouragement to them.
"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."
Manning played for the Volunteers from 1994 to 1997 and was a starter for three seasons. In his time on Rocky Top, Manning threw for 11,201 yards, 89 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions. He also won an SEC championship and two Citrus Bowls before heading off to the NFL -- the Vols famously won the national championship the year after Manning had left.