Inspiring future generations

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Denver Broncos starting quarterback Peyton Manning, right, holds the Lombardi Trophy after the Broncos’ 24-10 win against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Broncos won, 24-10. (Used with limited license: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Austin Sandoval

This year NFL stars Calvin Johnson and Peyton Manning are calling it quits from playing professional football. These players have inspired generations of kids to pursue their dreams of playing football.

Joshua Benson (11) plays wide receiver for the Lake Central football team. Benson was one of the many who grew up watching Johnson’s career evolve on a professional field.

“As I was growing up, I saw [Johnson] as a really good wide receiver. I wanted to grow up to be just as good as him, if not better,” Benson said.

Even though they don’t play the same positions, Collin Knaley (11) still looks to Manning as a role model.

“I like the Broncos, and he was a really good player. He tried his hardest, didn’t cheat, never quit and ended on a good note,” Knaley said.

These players inspire kids to follow in their footsteps.

“[I want to be like Johnson] because he was one of the best receivers in the league at the time, and still is, but he’s retired,” Benson said.

Next season will be the first time in 18 years that Manning won’t be playing in the NFL. This will be a huge change to football fans like Eric Blankenship (11) who have gotten accustomed to Manning suiting up every season.

“He revolutionized the NFL to the way it is today, so it’s definitely going to be a big change,” Blankenship (11) said.