A football team in Chicago, Ill., received a pleasant surprise late last month when one of the NFL’s all-time greats paid a visit. And he came bearing gifts.
On Aug. 24, football equipment maker Riddell invited players from Chicago’s Wendell Phillips Academy to its headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill., for a tour of the place and presented a gift: New SpeedFlex helmets and shoulder pads.
While there, as WGN-TV tells it, the team watched a video from legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, who was not scheduled to be there to give the gift itself.
“They put a video on of Peyton speaking to the young men,” Phillips head coach Troy McAllister told WGN. “Really generic. ‘Hey you guys, good luck this week.’ I was like, ‘This is pretty bad, he doesn’t even say ‘Phillips.’”
When the team turned around to look at the equipment, though, Manning himself appeared.
The former Colts and Broncos great then talked and took picture after picture with the group.
Phillips is a program and a school that has come a long way. According to WGN, the school was shut down for poor academic performance. It later reopened with an entirely new staff and, seven years later, 100 percent of the school’s seniors were accepted to college. Even more, students received $12.5 million in scholarship money.
With that, the football team grew. A program that had just 12 players suit up in 2010 has grown to over 100 with a new freshmen team.
“With our growth in the football program we got to the point where we needed equipment,” McAllister, whose team is 3-0 on the season, told WGN.
With a nice assist from Manning, it looks like Phillips will be alright in that department.