NFL Hall of Fame: Peyton Manning, Jamal Lewis, Jerod Mayo nominated

Three Tennessee Volunteers legends are nominated for the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The backfield that won Tennessee football the 1997 SEC Championship is now up for the Hall of Fame. What’s crazy is UT won the national title the next year after losing both of them, one to graduation and one to injury.

Anyway, Peyton Manning and Jamal Lewis are among the 130 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021, the organization announced on Wednesday. A third former Vol, Jerod Mayo, was also nominated.

Both Manning and Mayo are first-year eligible players, as they retired at the end of the 2015 season. Joining them, ironically, is Charles Woodson, who beat out Manning for the Heisman Trophy in 1997, an infamous moment on Rocky Top.

Crazy enough, Manning and Woodson are probably among the two sure locks to get into the Hall of Fame in this class. There’s almost no doubt Manning will get in given his accomplishments over 18 years with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

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When he retired, Manning was a two-time Super Bowl Champion a Super Bowl MVP and held the career records for touchdowns and passing yards while tying the career record for wins. He still holds the record for single season touchdowns, single season passing yards and career MVPs. Manning has five MVP awards, and nobody else has more than three.

Lewis played for the Baltimore Ravens from 2000 to 2006 and the Cleveland Browns from 2007 to 2009. He won a Super Bowl in 2000 and rushed for 2,000 yards in 2003 while setting what was then the single-game record with 295 rushing yards against Cleveland.

Mayo played for the New England Patriots from 2008 to 2015, earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008, made two Pro Bowls and earned First Team All-Pro in 2010 when he led the league in tackles. The Pats won the Super Bowl in 2014, but he was out with a season-ending injury at the time.

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All three of these guys were among the biggest stars during the Phillip Fulmer era. In 2003, Manning led the league in passing yards and won an MVP while Lewis had his 2,000-yard season, which showed just how loaded the Vols were in 1997. Both being up for the Hall of Fame now with Mayo is another testament to the talent produced during this time.