After 14 Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro selections, five MVPs, two Super Bowl rings and countless records, Peyton Manning is stepping away from football.
"When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it's easy to see how fortunate we've been to have him on our team," Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said in a statement, via Ben Swanson of the team's official website.
"Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more—not only for the football team but in the community," Elway added. "I'm very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career."
The Indianapolis Colts, Manning's team for most of his NFL career, sent out their thanks:
The NFL and its UK branch also honored Manning:
One of the greatest to EVER take the field...— NFL (@NFL) March 6, 2016
Here are the Top 10 moments of Peyton Manning's extraordinary career. https://t.co/EDVpXDKBYg
Thanks for the memories, Peyton Manning 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/cdrpYt5jdE— NFL UK (@NFLUK) March 6, 2016
Manning finished his career with 71,940 passing yards and 539 passing touchdowns, both NFL records. He is also tied with Brett Favre for most regular-season wins (186).
Albert Breer of NFL Network pointed out how much of Manning's on-field work came after four neck surgeries nearly ended his career:
Easy to forget how much doubt hovered around Peyton Manning after the 4 neck surgeries. Since then: 1639-2479, 19,062 yds, 151 TDs, 59 INTs.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 6, 2016
Now that Manning will have a lot of free time, golf legend Tiger Woods is looking forward to spending time with Manning on the golf course:
It was an honor to watch #18 for all these years. He revolutionized the position.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 7, 2016
Now we can play more golf in the future, but this time I need shots.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 7, 2016
Von Miller, the Broncos' Super Bowl MVP, took the time to thank Manning for his contributions to the game and his team, via AtTheBuzzer:
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report offered his analysis as well:
Peyton Manning is one of the greatest players I've ever seen. In any sport. Hell of a career.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 6, 2016
Manning was drafted first overall by the Colts out of Tennessee in 1998. As Trey Wingo of ESPN noted, he is not the last remaining player from that class:
Peyton Manning retiring Monday leaves @Hasselbeck as potentially the last active player from the 1998 draft... just like we all thought— trey wingo (@wingoz) March 6, 2016
Matt Hasselbeck, of course, was a relatively anonymous sixth-round pick who has held on as a backup in Indianapolis the last few years. The Colts are planning to move on from Hasselbeck, so it's possible that the Class of 1998's playing days are over.
Manning's always had a sense of humor, and Sports on Earth shared its favorite funny Manning moment:
We will miss you, Peyton Manning. pic.twitter.com/ZpHNEc81x8— Sports on Earth (@SportsonEarth) March 6, 2016
As for the on-field implications of Manning's retirement, the Broncos have to find a new starting quarterback. That likely puts free-agent-to-be Brock Osweiler in a position of power. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Denver's negotiations with the Arizona State product:
#Broncos have an offer on the table for Brock Osweiler & negotiations will now ramp up with Manning's decision. 4 days until new league year— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2016
RJ Bell of Pregame.com noted the Vegas implications:
Vegas had liklihood of Manning's retirement built into #Broncos 2016 odds ... little adjustment off of today's news.— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) March 6, 2016
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports stated his take on where Manning ranks all-time:
For me, Dan Marino will always be the best (Imagine him in this era with a team around him?), but Manning, Brady, Montana, Unitas all there.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 6, 2016
Prisco also pointed out a stat that may irk some New England Patriots fans:
Manning leaves with a 3-2 playoff record over Brady. Just saying.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 6, 2016
For his part, Tom Brady also wished his counterpart well in retirement:
Another former foe, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, also spoke on Manning's decision:
It was an honor and a privilege Peyton. #FarewellSheriff— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 6, 2016
Whether you have Manning ranked first, second or eighth all-time, he's a no-doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the best players of his generation. He helped revolutionize the sport, ushering in a pass-happy era that has shown no signs of slowing down.
Twenty years from now, perhaps Manning's numbers will look like relics. Maybe the Andrew Lucks of the world will shatter his marks in the same way Terry Bradshaw's numbers pale in comparison to Manning's. But without Manning, the game as it is today may never have evolved.