Moments ago, Colts QB Peyton Manning and team CEO and owner Jim Irsay announced at a press conference that the longtime Indianapolis signal caller has been released from his contract. It was not the future Hall of Fame quarterback's decision.
It comes as no surprise, given the news was widely reported yesterday, but Manning did reveal that it was not his choice to leave and he would have stayed with the Colts had they decided not to cut him free.
During the presser on ESPN2, Mike Berardino reported that Manning said,
"It wasn't his [Irsay’s] decision. It wasn't my decision. Circumstances kind of dictated all of that. It's not what either of us wanted. It's just kind of the way it worked out to be."
This decision was obviously 100 percent motivated by business, as the immense financial risk of gambling on Peyton’s uncertain health could not reasonably be undertaken.
Manning was to be owed a $28 million roster bonus on Thursday if he was still on the Colts and it would have activated the remaining four years of the $90 million deal he signed this past summer, according to Mike Chappell of The Indy Star.
It was a tearful decision that did not come easy for Irsay, and you can tell he held back no emotion when speaking of his quarterback and the hard choice he had to make to part ways.
Peyton was the face of the franchise and the reason the team won a Super Bowl and found success for the majority of his 14 seasons in the league.
It’s never easy to let someone like that go, but the fact that he underwent four neck surgeries in the past 19 months is just too much to risk $28 million upfront on and four more years with for a rebuilding franchise.
Now the Colts are widely expected to use their No. 1 draft pick on Andrew Luck, the Stanford QB who has the same amount of promise, if not more, than Manning did coming into the league.
Indianapolis fans are hoping he can help heal the wounds from this breakup, but they will never be able to replace No. 18.