OMAHA, Neb. — Peyton Manning came to Omaha to show the city some love in return for the love it showed him during the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.
Manning was the was the featured speaker at the B'nai B'rith sports banquet Thursday night, and he promised the crowd of 1,200 he'll keep shouting "Omaha!" at the line of scrimmage.
Manning has been using the city's name as part of his pre-snap routine for years, but his "Omaha!" chants put the city of 400,000 in the national spotlight during the playoffs because they came in so loud and clear over television field microphones.
"I can't tell you how many suggestions I get on what word I should use next year — cities, states, businesses, a lot of websites," Manning said. "I am here to tell you I am sticking with 'Omaha!' "
With that, the crowd erupted in hoots and applause.
Before the banquet, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce presented Manning a check for almost $70,000 for his foundation for at-risk children. Businesses donated money for every pre-snap "Omaha!" shouted by the 2013 NFL MVP.
"I'm very pleased to be here in the real city of Omaha," he said. "People of this city have been very gracious to me during my visit here. This (donated money) will go a long way to help the children at risk."
The chamber of commerce coordinated the fundraising effort to thank Manning for the shout-outs and free publicity.
The Omaha zoo named a newborn penguin "Peyton," and Omaha Steaks sold an "Omaha, Omaha" variety package of meats for Super Bowl partiers. A local ice cream parlor created a flavor in Manning's honor, "Omaha, Omaha," which had an orange-vanilla base mixed with blue malt balls — Broncos colors.
Manning gave no hint about what his "Omaha!" chants really mean or the reason why he and other quarterbacks use the word as they change plays at the line.
Manning's speech focused on the methods he employed to be a successful NFL quarterback. He stressed the importance of putting in extra work, intense film study and a willingness to be a leader.
He also touched on the obstacles the Broncos overcame to reach the Super Bowl, where they lost to Seattle.
"We faced a ton of injuries, including losing not one but two centers, lost our left tackle for the entire year, probably the best in the entire league, and we lost a player to a six-game suspension," he said. "And then in the middle of the season our head coach had a heart attack and was out for five weeks. The deck was shuffled, and there were so many things that pointed to having a bad year. We handled more adversity in a single season than most teams will in a five- or 10-year span."
The 38-year-old quarterback said he has set no timetable for retirement.
"I feel lucky to still be playing the game, and I enjoy being around these young guys. They keep me feeling young," he said. "I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can still help the team, as long as I still enjoy the preparation, and as long as the team still wants me to play."