Late Saturday night, word leaked that Peyton Manning held a private meeting with Papa John’s owner John Schnatter and high level executives to tearfully announce he was retiring from their commercials immediately. Manning, visibly emotional, cited a loss of passion for the medium and didn’t want to embarrass himself going forward.
The retirement rumor began to spread after the AFC Championship, when Manning whispered to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick that he’d be seeing less of him on TV.
Manning’s decision was not unexpected. Reportedly, Schnatter had become increasingly worried about Manning’s on-camera persona. Rumors had been spreading about Manning missing his cues and fumbling his lines. Camera crews began to notice Manning was no longer as sharp with his delivery as he was during his prime, when he was on top with his “cut that meat” commercials. For a recent commercial shoot Manning came dressed in his Indianapolis Colts jersey and had to be reminded he now plays for Denver.
“Yes, there was a meeting,” said Schnatter. “And yes, Peyton Manning was involved. I will not disclose any conversation that took place during the meeting. Any decision will come from Peyton, not me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m meeting with JJ Watt.”
Manning was reached for comment and was non-committal about his impending retirement from Papa John’s. When asked if he was retiring from Nationwide commercials as well, Manning began to weep.