THE FUTURE -- Welcome to the 2026 NFL Football Symposium. I'm your host, Peyton Manning. Hope you enjoyed cocktail hour out there between panels. Rex Ryan, man, that guy can still party.
OK, so this next panel is really exciting. In a few moments, we'll bring up our next speakers -- five quarterbacks taken 10 years ago, in the 2016 NFL Draft, to talk about their careers, successes, failures and lessons learned -- including, for one of these guys, the arduous journey to discover where the sun rose and set.
Let's start with the most successful pick from that draft to kick off our panel, "2016 Rookie Quarterbacks And The Quarterbacks They Emulated." Wow, that's a mouthful. So, there are different routes to making it in the NFL at the quarterback position.
As you know, Eli and I both had Hall of Fame careers after being taking with the No. 1 overall pick and playing in our first seasons in the league. But Aaron Rodgers, who joined us in Canton just this year, sat for a while and learned the game that way.
The same is true for our first panelist, current face of the Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl champion, and our friend, Dak Prescott. Dak got to sit for a few years behind Tony Romo and learn by observing, but those flashes we saw as early as preseason during his rookie year told the story: A Donovan McNabb-like QB with a nice arm, great decision making, and a good sense of when to tuck that ball and run. And, as it turned out, the time to grow and learn rather than being thrown to the wolves, like one of our other panelists.
After Tony retired, and Dak took over, it was like a hand to a glove. Perfect fit. Slid right in there and picked right up where he'd left off after lighting things up his first few preseason games way back in 2016. Remember that? Everyone freaked out, said the media was overreacting, they hemmed and hawed it was just preseason, it was too early, it proved nothing, the guy was a fourth-round pick for a reason. Well, and I say this from experience, and Eli knows it, too: You either can or can't play at this level. Dak could from day one. Like McNabb, he was a mobile quarterback who could still hurl the ball.
Dak, have a seat right there. Welcome. Appreciate you making time with another big season around the corner for you. Saw you and Russell Wilson talking at last night's premier of "Fast And The Furious 25: Let's Go So Even Much More Faster This Time," starring action hero Tom Brady. Assume you guys were talking about being drafted in the third and fourth rounds and winning more Super Bowls than the guys drafted ahead of you in your respective drafts. Good stuff.
Next up, Carson Wentz, who, and he'll talk about this, is having a very Matt Schaub-like career. Lot of production, a couple pro bowls, tall, athletic guy with nice pocket presence. Good career. When the Eagles traded up for him with the No. 2 overall pick, there were mixed feelings. But the guy's really worked out. Real solid career.
Again, time helps. His injury early in his rookie year actually was a blessing in disguise. It led the Eagles to slow things down for him, gave him time to ease into the league. Paid off, big time. Carson, thanks for joining us.
And next up, Paxton Lynch! My guy! Won that Super Bowl back in his rookie season, mostly behind that Denver Broncos defense, and how appropriate. He really has morphed into a more athletic version of Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben, of course, won a Super Bowl in his second season in the NFL.
Paxton didn't start for Denver until Week 4 of his rookie season, but when he got in there the turnovers went down and his team played a lot like it did when a certain other very, very handsome QB led them to the title the year before. Protected the ball, let the defense do the work. He was certainly better in 2016 than I was in 2015. Proud of him. He was also there for the infamous Jay Cutler meltdown in 2017 and, given how ugly that was, he handled it very, very maturely.
OK, so, Jared Goff is supposed to be here, but apparently he's running behind. And no, it's not because he'll be talking about his career comparisons to Blaine Gabbert. Goff, after being taken No. 1 overall in 2016, has had a decent career, mostly as a backup. But it's hard to blame him. Looking back at the Jeff Fisher years -- 21 of them! -- we all feel bad for Jared.
No, he's late because apparently he didn't want to use GPS to find his way here to prove he can navigate using the sun and, well, where it rises and sets, and he got lost. So. Yeah.
But he'll join us soon enough, and he'll talk about that really tough first season in Los Angeles, where a weak offensive line, inexperience with taking a snaps under center, and the speed of the game made for a really tough beginning. No doubt the 35 interceptions were largely a product of Fisher and then-general manager Les Snead trying to justify the price they'd paid for Goff. And I gotta tell you, as a guy who threw 28 interceptions his rookie year, that's a big jump to the NFL.
Plus, Goff has done a nice job as Dak's backup in Dallas the last few years, and he won them a big road playoff game back in 2024 when Dak went down to injury that week.
Yes. In the NFL.
He has very graciously agreed to attend despite the fact he will be featured on the panel as the "Heath Shuler" of his draft class. That first season, when he didn't take a single snap in the preseason or regular season, was the high point of his career. Tough, throwing six interceptions in two consecutive games in 2017 when he finally started.
Ah, and this is kind of awkward, but Christian, who now sells insurance out of northern New Jersey, wanted me to, ah, read this before we got started. Kind of what we agreed to do to get him here.
His note for you: "Term-life is no joking matter. Anything, at any time, can go wrong in a life. You can be hit by a car. Struck by lightning. Rendered ill. Even drafted by the New York Jets. So make sure your insurance is up to date today with Hackenberg Insurance Co., where the only thing we intercept is your bills when hard times hit."
Wow, that was, ah, painful.
Christian will be available afterward to answer insurance questions. Right next to the Papa John's Pizzas over there. The cheese station. In the corner.
OK, so let's get started.
Dak, maybe you can get us going by walking us through that Super Bowl run ...