ABILENE, TX - “Making the stop, number 11 Danieal Manning.”
After a successful career at Abilene Christian University…
“He’s the only defensive player to ever have his number retired here at ACU.”
Second-round draft choice by the Chicago Bears…
“With no further ado…our number one draft pick: Danieal Manning, Abilene Christian.”
“Oh man, it’s truly an honor to be a Chicago Bear.”
Start in your rookie year in Super Bowl 41…
“Manning fakes left, goes right. Open man again. Dragged down immediately, that’s Harrison with Danieal Manning, rookie from Abilene Christian University, making the hit.”
“I played fairly well in that game. I had like, 15 tackles, but it didn’t matter ‘cause we lost,” Manning said.
How do you follow up in the second half of your life?
It’s Thursday at Abilene Christian University. Finals are right around the corner.
We find Manning in Doctor Roper’s communication theory course.
“I felt like, getting that degree, I’m gonna finish that. I promised myself, promised a lot of family,” Manning said.
Manning saw the entire field, even coming out of college. Leaving ACU, number; entering the NFL, number 38 – symbolic of the credits he needs to finish his undergraduate.
“Football doesn’t last, always last. I played football for nine season. After that, you know, I made money. You want to be able to secure it, take care of it,” Manning said.
He’s back. No longer pounding ball carriers, instead he’s hitting the books.
“I have three kids now. And I want to let them know that is important to get your degree. I played ball, made money, I’m set. But it’s important to get that degree,” Manning said.
It’s a change of scenery, no doubt, from his rookie year in the NFL.
“A lot of good players on that defense. You had Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Nathan Vasher, Tommy Harris, Waleo Oguleye…David Hester. That’s just the guys on defense. You guys were stacked.”
“And you were part of it.”
The quite and humble kid from Corsicana, Texas – who used to personify his childhood hero, The Incredible Hulk, on the football field – is now personifying his biggest influence.
“My daddy just finished his degree. He finished and got two degrees. I’m riding around with his cap and gown. I’m still competing. So, you know it’s one of those things I gotta get,” Manning said.
Not only is Manning finishing his degree, but he’s also on the coaching staff at ACU. You’ll see him in the upcoming season as an undergraduate coach for the secondary.
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