Kenny Chesney’s love of football has been well-documented over the years. His song “The Boys of Fall” sums up the spirit of teamwork during a grueling season, and he also got behind the camera to co-direct The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story for ESPN, about the University of Tennessee star who was the first African-American quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.
In 2003, Chesney was rapidly ascending to superstar level and played his first-ever stadium show to a crowd of more than 60,000 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. At the time, Chesney had just released his album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems with singles “Young,” “The Good Stuff” and the title track. But to completely win over the crowd in Knoxville, he brought out the big guns.
During the Mac McAnally song “Back Where I Come From” (from Chesney’s 1996 album Me and You), Chesney finished his first chorus and beckoned to the side of the stage.
“A man who needs no introduction in this stadium,” he announced, bringing out UT alum and Heisman finalist Peyton Manning, who will lead the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers at Super Bowl 50. The UT grad was playing quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts at the time, where he got his first and only Super Bowl victory to date in 2006.
Dressed in a pressed shirt and cowboy hat, Manning towers over Chesney as he leans in to sing along. He’s not totally tuneless, either, but it seems clear that picking apart defenses is probably a better fit than belting nostalgic country tunes.
Before Manning takes the field today, Sam Hunt and Seal will play the Super Bowl 50 Tailgate Party, which will be televised as part of CBS’s pregame coverage. Chesney, meanwhile, will take his A-game to stadiums this summer on the Spread the Love Tour with Hunt, Miranda Lambert and Old Dominion.