Peyton Manning Opens Up About Longtime Friendship with Kenny Chesney

by Atlanta Northcutt
(Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning may be a famous football player, but he is still a country music fan who gets to be friends with his musical idols, including his close bond with Kenny Chesney.

Manning talked about his friendship with the country artist while appearing on Luke Combs’ Bootleggers Radio on Apple Music Country. He thought back about the “great friendship” he’s had with Chesney since 1996. The 25-year friendship all began while Peyton was playing football for the University of Tennessee Volunteers.

Peyton Manning and Kenny Chesney: BFFs

“Met Kenny on the sidelines of a Tennessee-Alabama game,” Manning recalls. He explains how the two began to become good buds while sharing their many similarities and interests. Chesney grew up in Knoxville, and was what Peyton described as “a diehard Tennessee fan.”

“He had played the national anthem, sang ‘Me and You,’ I think at halftime, and hung out on the sidelines for the game. And he was into it. He wasn’t just thinking it was cool to be on the sidelines. He was into the game, and you felt that,” says Manning.

The pro-football player said they really “connected then.” After Chesney had watched Peyton perform, it was now time for Manning to enjoy watching what the country music legend could crank out onstage.

Peyton says he watched Kenny “play a couple of shows at a fair in Knoxville, up in Bristol.”

A Real Friendship Between Two Great Performers

The two celebrities had found that connection as friends, and it continued to grow over the years. As a true act of friendship, Kenny Chesney sang his touching song, “You and I” for Manning and his wife at the couple’s wedding.

“A lot of his songs were coming out at the time,” he said. “And you felt that connection going to school in Knoxville and following a guy that was from the area. You felt even a closer bond with that performer. And Kenny ended up singing at the church at my wedding. He performed ‘Me and You’ for my wife and I for our first song at our wedding reception. So just been good friends since then.”

Peyton continues on by telling Combs how he was a big fan of Kenny before he even met him. He’s now seen Chesney perform in concert “a bunch” over the years. The pro-football player has surprisingly stepped onto the stage with the musician several times, as well.

“Too many times,” he adds. He then jokingly apologizes to listeners for any damage that he may have caused while singing “Back Where I Come From.”

“I apologize to all the fans that had to hear me sing ‘Back Where I Come From,’ as opposed to letting Kenny sing it,” he laughs. “But Kenny liked bringing me out there, and believe it or not, Luke, back in the pre-social media era, he actually put a guitar on me and put me in with the band. He put me in G. I don’t know what G really is, but I get in G and just stay at it. And played the whole show.”

“What a great way to watch a concert. The sightseeing, the energy, it was awesome,” he says fondly. “I think those days are over.”

Manning’s Love for His Country Music Friends

Kenny Chesney is one of Peyton Manning’s close friends, and just so happens to be a country music star. However, he’s not Peyton’s only pal that knows how to rock a crowd. Country sensations like Eric Church and Brad Paisley are also on his friends’ list.

Manning even mentions his relationship with Church during his appearance on Luke Combs’ podcast. With Paisley, Peyton says the artist is someone he’s “gotten to know these past few years.”

“I think my appreciation for his music has grown even more with hearing his story, and hearing how he got started in the industry, and the time and the work that he puts in, and ideas for songs,” Manning says of Church. “I mean, to me, it’s the process.”

With Peyton obviously being a big fan of country, he has friends in all the right places.