All Episodes

May 15, 2020 11 mins

In this episode of Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020, American professional football player Eli Manning emboldens graduating students to discover their own unique grade of rocket fuel and blast off into a promising future.

Learn more about your ad-choices at

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Commencement Speeches for the Class of is a production of
I Heart Radio. Class of Parents, Faculty, rising graduates, Welcome
to commencement. You made it. This year is a little different,

a difficult time to graduate because the traditional graduation day
has been put on hold. So we're bringing it to
you wherever you are because this is still your day,
your moment. And now put your hands together. It's time
to be inspired. This year's commencement speaker the one and
only Eli Manning. Am I the only one that thinks

this is kind of weird? Virtual graduations? Let's stretch our
imaginations in to what someone dubbed the for guessable future.
Quiet down, Quiet down. The ceremonies finally going to begin.
Go ahead, wipe those sweaty hands on your virtual gown,

and please please straighten your cap before walking on stage
and accepting your virtual diploma from the dean. Listen, your
family and friends are all here. You deserve to be
celebrated seriously. Whether you're graduating from high school, college, or
receiving an advanced degree, you have my sincereus congratulations. Congratulations

to you and to all the people in your life
who are there to push pride and pump you up,
ultimately driving you towards this goal. Now is the time
to show the world what Generation Z is made of.
More importantly, now is the time to show what you
can do, what you can become. Instead of focusing on
the big goodbye with no goadbyes, or is the New

York Times put it cap and gone, Let's focus on
the gems you can unearth and what's being called America
two point oh A pandemic got us where we are today,
but it is you who will be changing our future course.
I was a football player. That means I got knocked
down a few times. In reality is more like I

got plowed into the ground, And when I was faced
down on the turf, I sometimes was uncontrollably wincing in pain.
But neither my team nor I could afford to wallow
and what had just happened. My dad used to call
it getting back to zero. He taught us that if
he spent a fraction more than necessary thinking about the

failed play, we couldn't focus on or be ready for
what was coming next. That's not just true for football,
that's life. I don't mean to ignore what happened. You
put it into perspective and give it its fair analysis.
But after the game is done. It's been sixteen years

since I graduated from Ole Mess and oh those memories,
the dreaded eight am classes. Then there are scantrons. I
still have a recurring nightmare where I showed up to
take a test and I don't have a freaking scantron,
and nobody will give you one. I remember the first
time I saw my future wife, and I remember the

first time being the back of a cop car. There
were group study sessions, and of course the Sunday scaris
after a weekend without getting any work done and facing
that stressful twelve hour window to complete assignments before Monday.
Oh and yeah, I remember trying to remember how long
it had been since I last washed my sheets. But

that's in the past for me and for you. It's
time to think about tomorrow. No, you're not sitting in
an auditorium or stadium today with classmates, family friends, distinguished
academics and a million cameras capturing a well core ptographs ceremony.
So go ahead, slouch, sit back and stretch your legs,

or go for a job with your headphones while listening
to I Heart radio nobody will know the difference. I'm
sorry to say, I don't have any innovative ideas to
spark the genius within, but there are a few things
that have made a difference in my life. It may
just trigger a new direction for you. Country music artist
Jason Bowen has a line in one of his songs

that could have been written for me. I won't sing
it for your sake, but the lyrics go like this,
I have a harmless habit of being fine wherever I am.
You see, I don't mind being an awkward situations are
doing things I don't necessarily want to do, like becoming
the Giants backup quarterback after winning two Super Bowls and

walking away with the m v P. Embracing awkward is
worth cultivating because life like this graduation rarely goes as planned.
As much as you may regret missing the pop and
circumstance of walking across stage to be presented your diploma,
as much as you feel this thing of missing a
few more months in a darm with friends you probably

won't see again before your fifth class reunion. This pandemic
has taken a unique toll on the first generation college students,
whose entire family penned their American dream on this one ceremony.
Grown ups, that's what you are now have to learn
to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Get used to it

and accept the challenge. Everything isn't easy, and it shouldn't be,
because when you accomplish something difficult, something really hard, the
end result typically is much more meaningful whatever happens. Get
used to accepting the challenge. People have a way of
toughening up when they refuse to run away from the

obstacles in their lives. As an NFL quarterback, people constantly
ask me to give hope where they're seeing to only
be a big black hole. It was never easy for
me to visit sick children looking for hope. At some point,
everybody should walk into a hospital's pediatric cancer floor. It
certainly puts life in perspective. At first, you might not

feel like you're making a difference. When you sit and
look a sick child in the face. You may not
know what to say. Maybe she just stares at you silently,
but you decide to stay and ask questions to get
them to talk about something that matters to them. Believe me,
I've squirmed through these situations more times than I can count,

and despite my own discomfort, it lifted their spirits and
put a smile on their face just because I was
there for them. When people experience tough times, reach out
to them, be generous with your kindness. There are little
things that can make a difference to like just being
on time. It doesn't require any skill or talent to

be on time and to be present. Half a success
is simply showing up and being present, putting you in
position to succeed. Not showing up or being late is
the quickest way to fail. I'm not the smartest person
you've ever met by a long shot. School was hard
for me all my life, from elementary through college. But

I showed up and I was present. That doesn't take skill,
It takes commitment, and that's within everybody's capability. As author
Burnet Brown wrote, the willingness to show up changes us.
It makes us a little braver each time saying a
heartfelt thank you. There's another small but meaningful gesture. Graduation

is the perfect time to reflect on those who have
helped you get where you are today. That includes teachers, parents, coaches, friends,
you name it. Graduation is the time to be thankful
and to thank them individually. It could be a handwritten note,
or a phone or zoom hall. I don't mean sending
out a mass tweet to me that seems insincere and

much too easy. There are people in your life who
simply deserve to get a personal thank you. You didn't
get where you are today without the help of other people,
and I know I've never accomplished anything significant in my
life without the help of others. My freshman year in college,
actor Morgan Freeman spoke to our football team. He explained

that he never accepted a role or took on a
new project without asking himself one important question. Would my
mother approve? He avoided anything that would discredit his mom
or the family name. As you go out into the
world and flex your muscles, picture your mother watching you.
Will she be encouraged by what she sees? Will she

approve of your choice? Not wanting to disappoint a parent, coach,
mentor or best friend is worth your effort? Why? Because
often when you take the time and exert energy to
do something noteworthy, you're doing it for someone else as
well as for yourself. What would you do if you
weren't afraid no one can vaccinate themselves against the unknown.

No matter what the near future looks like, your life
can only be diminished if you allow it to be.
No one else can quarantine the memories, friendship, or wisdom
you've accumulated over the past four years. Challenge yourself, what
is your barometer of success? Don't downgrade your dreams to
fit today's halting reality. Don't let the new normal be

in an excuse for standing in place. It is up
to you not to become the class that never was.
You're not the first to abruptly in the year and
be robbed of a cherished milestone in your life. In
nineteen four, mem were drafted and shift off to fight
World War Two without a ceremony. In New Orleans, my hometown,

Hurricane Katrina shuttered their classrooms and forced thousands to migrate
and fin of school and other parts of the country.
The Virginia Tech class of two thousand seven had to
forego graduation after a campus mass shooting. Soon, social distancing
will be a choice, not a mandate. Will be able
to gather and hug and kiss those we care about.

Until then, let the United States Postal Service do the
honors with that diploma. If you haven't already. It's time
to discover your own unique grade of rocket fuel and
to blast off. Trust yourself. Your future trajectory is up
to you. Thank you. You can find a collection of

incredible commencement addresses from all your favorite speakers at the
Commencement Podcast on I Heart Radio or wherever you listen
to podcasts but they can't s
Advertise With Us

Popular Podcasts

Dateline NBC
Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.