Peyton Manning Receives ‘Distinguished Citizen’ Award That Elvis Presley Also Received in 1977

by Jon D. B.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Anytime you win an award that Elvis Presley won, I think that’s pretty cool,” says Peyton Manning of his Distinguished Citizen Award Sunday.

Isn’t that the truth! Many congrats to the oft-awarded Manning for taking home AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s Distinguished Citizen Award in Memphis, Tennessee. The two-time Super Bowl-winning, five-time NFL MVP-er, and 14-time Pro Bowler has won heaps (and we mean heaps) of awards before this one.

But none touch the “coolness” of Sunday’s presentation.

“My father (Archie Manning has) won this award before. One of my old coaches, Tony Dungy, has won this award,” said Manning Sunday per Memphis’ Commercial Appeal. “I think my dad used this line a couple of years ago, but anytime you win an award that Elvis Presley won, I think that’s pretty cool.”

Among many things, Peyton Manning is beyond-loved in the state of Tennessee, and it all boils down to the bright UT orange blazer he sported for Sunday’s event. He’s also a minority owner of he Memphis Grizzlies. And his wife, Ashley, hails from the town, as well.

As for Elvis Presley, well, we all know where Graceland is. The most prolific icon in music history may have been born in Tupelo, Mississippi – but he became Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee.

Peyton Manning Wins Award Elvis Presley Won in 1977

The first ever AutoZone Liberty Bowl Distinguished Citizen Award went to legendary coach Frank Leahy in 1972. In 1977, however, it would go to the biggest name in entertainment history: Elvis Presley.

The award is a time-honored tradition of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. One that has, for more than 30 years, recognized some of America’s most prominent citizens.

By the organization’s own words: “The award has been presented to a cross-section of Americans from a wide range of professions, including military commanders, governors, and congressmen, as well as leaders in business, medicine, education, entertainment and sports.”

This description certainly meets both Elvis Presley and Peyton Manning. Yet as Elvis fans know, the award would tragically be one of the last Presley ever won. The icon would die on August 16, 1977, mere months after receiving this award.

Then, in 2018, his wife, Priscilla Presley, won the award herself, as well. And now Peyton Manning can count himself among the distinguished few.

His award follows 2019’s Donald Dell, the tennis and sports business innovator. The award, like much of life, was forced into a hiatus for 2020 as per the COVID-19 Pandemic.