The 56th Annual CMA Awards - Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning
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Fans Have Mixed Reactions to Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning's CMA Awards Opening Monologue

All of our favorite country stars gathered in Nashville on Wednesday night to celebrate the 56th annual CMA Awards. Reba McEntire, Cody Johnson, Blake Shelton, Lainey Wilson, Thomas Rhett, and the rest of the industry's biggest names showed up to the Bridgestone Arena dressed to impress, but all eyes were on the hosts when the show began. In 2021, Luke Bryan led the ceremony as the first solo host in nearly two decades. This year, he was welcomed back to the stage again—but he didn't come alone. Bryan was joined by co-host Peyton Manning, marking the first time the Country Music Association has invited a professional athlete to host its annual event.

While Bryan and Manning might not be the CMA Awards hosts that fans expected, they both maintain that "there are a lot of parallels between football and this year's nominees."

"For example, Lainey Wilson—she's our first-round draft choice," Manning explained during the duo's opening monologue. "And Carrie Underwood is always a top consideration for MVP," Bryan added.

Can't argue with that logic! Some viewers welcomed the fresh perspective, pointing out that the retired football player and country superstar work well together. "I haven't stopped laughing at the opening with Peyton and Luke," one fan wrote on Twitter. "Peyton Manning is a country singer in another life," another joked.

Others couldn't help but reminisce about the days when Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hosted the show. "Can we get Brad and Carrie back?" one disappointed fan mused. "I'd like a word with whoever decided that Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley were no longer the hosts of ... everything that needs hosts," another chimed in.

Despite the skepticism, Manning wants people to know he's not all that different from one of the previous CMA Awards hosts.

"Carrie Underwood and I have a lot in common. We've both worked with Brad Paisley, we've both been on Sunday Night Football a lot, and we're both very nervous about what Luke Bryan might say tonight," he said.

All jokes aside, the two-time Super Bowl champ assured the audience that he didn't accept this hosting gig "to talk football." He's just a huge fan of country music! (That, and someone needs to keep Luke Bryan in check. 😉)

READ MORE: 2022 CMA Red Carpet: Country Stars Arrive in Style