While he formally announced his retirement with the Denver Broncos, legendary Colts quarterback Peyton Manning reflected on his prior 14 seasons in Indianapolis during Monday’s press conference.
Despite often being cool, calm, and collected in the pocket on the game’s biggest stages, the 39 year old quarterback was very emotional in his retirement press conference–especially regarding his time with the Colts:
"“Thank you to the Indianapolis Colts organization and all of the fans across this country. You can’t fathom how much I enjoyed my 14 years there. Or the warmth that my family feels for you,” started Manning on his Colts tenure. Mar 7, 2016; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning reacts during his retirement announcement press conference at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports“I’d be wrong not to mention Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, some great coaches, support staff, and a host of wonderful Colts teammates–many of whom will be lifelong friends.”“When I was drafted by the Colts, Indianapolis was a basketball and car racing town, but it didn’t take long for the Colts to convert the city and state of Indiana into football evangelists.”“We ended my rookie season 3-13 and in the process I set the NFL record for rookie interceptions–a record that I still hold today. Every year I pull for a rookie quarterback to break that record. Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Cam Newton. I still kid Eli that he would’ve broken it had he started all 16 games.”Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts scrambles while looking for a receiver against the Dallas Cowboys during their game on November 17, 2002 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Cowboys 20-3.“In the beginning of my time in Indy, the team’s struggles were agonizing. My grandfather would call me weekly to ask if his favorite announcers, John Madden and Pat Summerall, would be broadcasting our game. ‘Paw Paw,’ I’d say, ‘We’re only 2-8 right now. We’re playing the 3-7 Bengals. Madden and Summerall don’t broadcast those kinds of games’.”“Fast-forward to my second year when we had gotten things going a little bit. We were playing the Dallas Cowboys and Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders. I called Paw Paw: ‘Guess what, Madden and Summerall are broadcasting the game.” He said, “I can’t believe it’.”“He was elated and he was very proud and we beat the Cowboys that week and we let the world know that the Colts had arrived. Make no mistake about it, we were coming and we went on to do some phenomenal things like winning at least 12 games seven years in a row and of course winning Super Bowl XLI. And I was truly honored and proud to be a part of it.”"
Manning’s farewell press conference also later included some notable Colts shoutouts:
"Image Courtesy of USA Today“Over my NFL career, I’ve had five head coaches who have helped me become better at my craft and have helped me become a better human being: Jim Mora, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, John Fox, Gary Kubiak.”“I’ll miss figuring out blitzes with Jeff Saturday. Reggie sitting on top of the bench next to me. Perfecting a fake handoff to Edgerrin James.”“I’ll miss putting in a play with Tom Moore and Adam Gase that ends in a touchdown on Sunday.”"
Fortunately for Colts fans, this isn’t the last time they’ll hear from their beloved #18, as the team reportedly plans to honor Manning themselves on March 18th at the team’s complex.
It’s no coincidence that after 18 NFL seasons and infamously wearing the #18, that the team plans to honor him on a date beholding the same very special number.
There are certain times in sports, where fans simply have to “stop and smell the roses” because there will never be another Peyton Manning. He was not only the face of the Colts organization for a number of years, but also that of the NFL’s shield in general–a player who simply transcended the sport with his stellar play and iconic personality.
Thankfully, Colts fans were fortunate to apart of that for 14 magical seasons.