Peyton Manning Surprises University of Tennessee Students in Online Class

Students in Dr. John Haas’ communication class at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville were in for a Super Bowl-sized surprise on Thursday morning.

NFL star Peyton Manning crashed Haas’ class, which is being held online due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a video shared by the university, Haas calls out a “Mr. Thompson” for joining the virtual class late — Manning then appears on the call, apologizing for his tardiness.

“It’s been a while. It’s been at least since 1996 or 7 since I’ve been in a class,” the quarterback said, causing several students to make shocked faces at his appearance.

“Well, you know, if you were here I’d be making you run the stadium steps for being late,” Haas joked.

“I understand,” the Super Bowl XLI champion said. “Well, these are unique circumstances. I’m sure this is the first virtual Zoom class you’ve taught in many years, I would think.”

Manning, a UT alum himself, then addressed the students, acknowledging how difficult it must be to attend the end of their senior year virtually.

“I just wanted to drop in and say hello to all the communication students there. I realize this is a unique time, and probably not the ideal way you guys expected to spend your senior year,” he said. “But I just encourage you to keep a positive attitude, keep working like you’re doing and try to take advantage of the little bit of the extra time you have to accomplish something else or help out somebody in need. A lot of people hurting out there during this time.”

“Be thankful for what you have and just know the University of Tennessee is proud of you and is going to support you every way you can,” he continued. “And you know Dr. Haas and his department is going to do the same thing.”

“That’s exactly right,” Haas agreed.

“Thank you, Mr. Manning,” the students said. One rebuffed the professor for not give them a heads up, joking, “some of us didn’t even put on make up this morning!”

In 2018, Manning donated $1 million to his alma mater to establish the John Haas Student Experimental Learning Endowment in honor of one of his favorite professors.

Universities across the United States have shifted to online learning environments in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Thursday, the U.S. became the nation with the most number of confirmed cases of the contagious respiratory virus in the world with at least 83,329, according to the New York Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.


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