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What NFL star Peyton Manning had to say at a Utah tech conference

Peyton Manning, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021, speaks at the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
Peyton Manning, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021, speaks during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8, 2021, in Canton, Ohio. Manning, kicked of the annual user summit Wednesday for Utah financial technology innovator MX.
David Richard, Associated Press

“Omaha!”

A Nebraska city nestled up next to the Missouri River, certainly, but for millions of NFL fans it’s a term that evokes memories of one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks of all time: Peyton Manning.

Manning — for whom “Omaha” became a favorite, and expected, part of his line-of-scrimmage play-calling — kicked off the annual user summit Wednesday for Utah financial technology innovator MX, hosted at the mountain destination Snowbird Resort.

Manning, the son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and brother of another pro QB, Eli Manning, was a first-ballot inductee into the NFL’s Hall of Fame earlier this year. At the opening day of the MX Summit, he shared personal insights and takeaways from his 18 years in professional football and what life has been like since he left the league in 2015 after securing his second Super Bowl title.

Peyton Manning is one of three sons of Archie, all of whom followed in dad’s footsteps in playing football as kids. But in a family that many may believe was overly focused on football, Manning said there was never pressure to get in the game from his father, a longtime quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.

“My dad really never pushed us into playing sports, he encouraged us ... but he never pushed us,” Manning said.

He noted that light-touch parenting approach played a role in the love both he and his brother Eli carried into their careers.

“Eli and I had brought a passion for football into our pro careers because it was fun growing up,” Manning said.

Raised in a football family

While all three brothers were successful high school football players who advanced to college careers, Cooper Manning, the oldest, suffered a career-ending injury while a freshman wide receiver at Ole Miss. Peyton Manning would later honor his older brother by choosing jersey number 18, the number worn by Cooper Manning as well as their father in college, when he joined the Indianapolis Colts as a first-round draft pick in 1998.

While that year was a stinker, and Manning threw a record number of interceptions as a rookie while going on to a dismal 3-13 record, the drought would be brief. Peyton Manning would go on to win two Super Bowls, one each with the Colts and Denver Broncos, while earning five league MVP awards and 14 Pro Bowl appearances.

But, instead of reliving his enviable list of career highlights at the MX event, Peyton Manning instead focused on the building blocks of his successes.

One of the keys, he said, was the work he did to be more prepared than any of his opponents before stepping out on the field.

“Preparation was just where I felt I could get some type of edge on the competition,” Peyton Manning said. “I couldn’t out-throw anybody, and if you ever saw me play you know I couldn’t outrun anybody.

“But I could out-prepare them.”

Peyton Manning said one of the best pieces of advice he got from his father as a young player was knowing the difference about where the inevitable pregame jitters are really coming from.

“Nervousness and pressure are two different things,” Manning said. “It’s OK to get nervous before a big game. ... It means you care about the outcome. Pressure means you probably haven’t prepared, haven’t done your homework.”

‘You have to earn the mantle of leadership’

Peyton Manning also revisited the fan and sports commentator energy that grew up around “Omaha” and other terms he sometimes used when calling for a change at the line of scrimmage. He said the move, known as an audible, had a lot more planning behind it than most people realize.

“It looks spontaneous and frantic,” Manning said. “But every audible I ever called was for something that we had practiced. We weren’t just winging it.”

Peyton Manning also talked about the approach he took when walking into first-time huddles as a freshman at the University of Tennessee, a rookie with the Colts and, eventually, as a veteran quarterback joining the Broncos after recovering from what many expected would be a career-ending neck injury.

Peyton Manning said his foremost thoughts in all those situations was focused on the recognition that you have to prove yourself and earn the respect of teammates before they are going to be willing to follow and trust you in challenging situations.

“Just because you’re the quarterback, CEO, manager or president doesn’t make you a leader,” Manning said. “You have to earn the mantle of leadership.”

Peyton Manning’s humble, everyman persona has earned him a continued media presence, even some six years away from the game. Now familiar to football and non-football television viewers alike as a pitchman for Nationwide Insurance, Peyton Manning also has two other side gigs, and both include a brother.

One is a “Jeopardy!”-like game show called “College Bowl” that can trace its roots to a 1950s-era radio show, where he and Cooper Manning co-host competitions between college students for scholarship awards. And, new to the 2021 NFL season, Peyton and Eli Manning provide side commentary for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcasts on ESPN2.

MX Summit

While Peyton Manning’s awards and accolades are numerous, Utah fintech giant MX is having its own MVP-esque year.

In January, MX announced a new round of financing that infused the company with $300 million in fresh capital as it reached a valuation of nearly $2 billion.

MX provides services primarily for banks and financial institutions that take vast amounts of transactional data and synthesizes information to make it easier for end users to oversee and manage their personal finances.

MX founder and CEO Ryan Caldwell said the world of personal digital banking is continuing to evolve at a breakneck pace and his company is helping power those changes.

“The financial industry is at an inflection point as organizations look to become not only intermediaries, but true advocates for their customers by offering personalized insights and data-driven money experiences,” Caldwell said in a statement following the funding announcement.

“Along with incredible partners, we are helping financial institutions and technology companies accelerate their digital road maps and launch next-generation services and apps that will fundamentally transform how people interact with their money.”

In a 2019 Deseret News company profile, Nate Gardner, MX chief customer officer, explained that while his company’s clients are primarily banks and financial services businesses, the goal of its products is to make financial management as easy as possible for the individual. That happens, he said, via a process MX innovated that simplifies the complex transactional data that flows through banking institutions.

“Fundamentally, we ingest mounds and mounds of data from different sources, then normalize and structure and enhance that data,” Gardner said. “The end result is clean and clear information that shapes the customer’s digital experiences in mobile and online banking and financial services.”

Gardner said the mission of easing the psychological wear and tear of financial management on individuals and families is the driving force behind MX’s innovations.

“Finances in general generate a lot of emotion and stress with the end user,” Gardner said. “Something like 80% of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck. They see something they don’t understand in their bank transactions or records and get worried. There’s a ton of friction, there’s a ton of tension and concern, and that creates a lot of stress.”

The MX “Money Experience” summit was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at Snowbird Resort. Other featured speakers include Olympic speedskater Apolo Ohno, race car driver Mario Andretti and Allyson Felix, the most decorated U.S. Olympic track athlete of all time.