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Mile High Morning: How a Broncos fan lent Peyton Manning a helping hand at his Ring of Fame induction


The Lead

Before he threw one last touchdown pass, Peyton Manning called one last audible.

For the final act of his Ring of Fame enshrinement ceremony during halftime of the Broncos' game vs. Washington, Manning wanted to wear a No. 18 jersey, and in a rare moment where he was caught unprepared on an NFL field, he didn't have one.

But he knew there were probably several thousand people in the stands who did.

One of those people was Ed Goff, who was there with his son Coby expressly to observe this moment.

"We decided to come just for this, because we never got to see him play, and we didn't get to go to Canton, Ohio to watch him go in the Hall of Fame," Goff said. "So I told my boy, 'This is our last chance to see him, so let's go.'"

Little did they know they'd play an integral role in Manning's Ring of Fame festivities.

The plan was this: After receiving his orange Ring of Fame jacket from his children, Manning would walk out from the north tunnel to midfield, where he would receive his final honors as the franchise's 35th Ring of Fame inductee. He'd accept a ring from former head coach John Fox and then give a short speech to the crowd.

And then, Manning would add a unique flourish to the ceremony by throwing a 30-yard pass to former teammate Brandon Stokley in the right corner of the end zone. But the moment called for a slight costume change; it made much more sense to be wearing a jersey.

So when a Broncos staffer told Goff, "Peyton would like to use your jersey," Goff's response came easily.

"Heck yeah, here you go!" Goff later recalled saying.

Anything was gravy for Goff. He'd expected the halftime show's events to take place far away from their spot just beyond the northeast corner of Empower Field at Mile High's north end zone.

That one of the all-time great quarterbacks would want his jersey, Goff wasn't too concerned with the thought that he might not get it back.

"No, I didn't care," Goff said. "Peyton seems like a pretty good guy."

The worst-case scenario — that he'd lose his jersey — didn't come to bear. After throwing a perfect pass to Stokley, Manning pulled the jersey off, autographed it with "HOF '21" and then made sure the jersey made its way back to its rightful owner.

Goff couldn't hear what Manning may have said due to the roar of Broncos fans going wild at the sight of him throwing one more touchdown in his Broncos uniform.

For Goff, who had been to about six Broncos games before this but never one with Manning under center, the experience was a memorable one — and perhaps even more so for his son, whose visit was his first ever to see the Broncos play.

"This is my son's first game," Goff said "… [It's] really good start. … This will be a tough one to top."

As for the jersey, one good audible deserves another. Goff won't wear it again, he said. Before the game even ended, he'd decided its destiny lies in securing history.

"I'm going to frame it," Goff said. "It's going on the wall."

For that jersey, nothing could be more fitting.

The Unclassifieds

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