Two-term Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2018. That immediately led to speculation about who could take his place representing the state in Washington, including renewed mentions of former NFL star Peyton Manning.
Manning, a former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback, played college football for the University of Tennessee. On Tuesday, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., told Business Insider he thought Manning was “a great guy and a popular guy” who could have interest in representing the state in Congress. But DesJarlais said he doubted the football player would run to replace Corker next year, instead waiting until 2020 when Tennessee’s other senator, Republican Lamar Alexander, is up for reelection.
Manning addressed Republicans at the party’s annual retreat in Philadelphia in January.
Past speculation that Alexander, who is serving his third term, could be retiring also led to suggestions that Manning could run. The football star, who retired from the NFL in 2016, has denied interest in pursuing a role in Congress.
“I don’t know where that came from. Last week I was going to run a team, this week I going to apparently run for Senate, and next week I’ll be an astronaut,” Manning said in March at a business conference. “I have no interest in the political world, but would like to continue serving communities.”
Days before Manning made that comment, Alexander told USA Today that he hadn’t yet decided whether he’d run again in 2020.
“Everybody likes Peyton Manning, including me,” Alexander said.
Tennessee Republican operatives said as of March, they weren’t aware of Manning doing anything to formally set up a campaign to run for Senate.
“We have not had any political discussions with Peyton Manning,” Scott Golden, the Tennessee Republican Party chairman, told USA Today. “Undoubtedly, he is a Tennessee hero and if he should ever choose to use his legendary determination, knowledge and drive in politics, he would be an extremely formidable candidate.”