Before Manning spoke, key people in the Broncos organization, including president and CEO Joe Ellis, general manager and legendary QB John Elway and head coach Gary Kubiak, offered praise and shared memories of the Sheriff.
As prolific of a quarterback as Elway was, he didn't hold back in his effusive praise of the biggest free-agent acquisition of his front office tenure.
"He revolutionized the game," Elway said, per the NFL's official Twitter feed.
Elway also shared his thoughts on how Manning conducted the slow no-huddle offense, saying, per the NFL Network's Judy Battista, "Dang, why didn't we think of that?"
Kubiak was one of five head coaches who had the privilege of having Manning on his side. Although it came in the very last year of the latter's career, Kubiak acknowledged how much of an impression the signal-caller made.
"It was only nine months for me, but I'll remember it for a lifetime," he said of his time coaching Manning, per SportsCenter on Twitter.
The charismatic QB did have some humor in store but was emotional when he took the podium, offering genuine gratitude to those who guided him on his amazing ride through the NFL, which spanned 17 seasons played and one year of sitting out to recover from multiple neck surgeries.
"I fought a good fight. I have finished my football race, and after 18 years, it is time," Manning said, per USA Today's Lindsay Jones.
After paying tribute to the 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning was sure to also thank the organization that gave him a chance once his time in Indy was up.
"Grateful is the word that comes to mind when I think of the Denver Broncos," he stated, per 9News' Mike Klis.
CBS News recorded a key moment as Manning reflected on his thoughts about the future prior to Denver's 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50:
CBS News @CBSNews
Before Super Bowl, Peyton Manning remembers daughter asking, "Is this the last game ever?" https://t.co/mJs2rJLu6J https://t.co/ncOMcZnoOD3/7/2016, 6:34:26 PM
He elaborated on how he felt about walking away from football, saying, per the Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer: "I revere football. I love the game. So you won't have to wonder if I'll miss it. Absolutely. Absolutely I will."
Able to ride off into the proverbial sunset with a second Super Bowl ring to cap off his legacy, Manning spoke about his competitiveness and how it helped him become one of the all-time greats.
"There were other players who were more talented, but there was no one who could outprepare me. And because of that, I have no regrets," he said, per the NFL Network's Albert Breer.
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Numerous teammates of Manning's were in attendance, including Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, who was a big part of the elite Broncos defense that helped the QB win a second championship.
"Von, the fact you came off your celebrity tour to be here today means a lot," Manning told Miller, per Klis.
The only uncomfortable moment in the retirement press conference came when Manning was asked about lingering allegations regarding an incident from his time at the University of Tennessee.
"I think it's sad that some people don't understand the truth or the facts. I did not do what has been alleged," he stated, according to the Denver Post's Nicki Jhabvala. "Like Forrest Gump said, 'That's all I have to say about that.'"
The tough inquiry didn't faze Manning, who expressed optimism about what lies ahead beyond the gridiron.
"Life is not shrinking for me. It's morphing into a whole new world of possibilities," he said, per Jhabvala.
Manning capped everything off in fitting fashion, per CBS Sports' Will Brinson:
Will Brinson @WillBrinson
Peyton Manning’s final word at his press conference? “OMAHA”3/7/2016, 6:54:58 PM
It was a classic conclusion that reinforced the 39-year-old's assertion that he will indeed miss the playing the game. And he will be missed on the field as well in light of the reaction that followed his announcement.
Plenty of people were wowed by Manning's retirement presser. Clay Travis of Fox Sports 1 made a particularly bold comparison:
Clay Travis @ClayTravis
Manning's good bye is up there with Lou Gehrig's speech to the Yankees as one of the greatest retirement speeches of all time.3/7/2016, 6:38:25 PM
ESPN personality Mike Golic saw the similarities between Manning's rigorous game-day preparation and how he approached Monday's press conference:
Mike Golic @espngolic
Peyton was as well prepared for that retirement speech as he's been for any game, really impressive3/7/2016, 6:39:26 PM
Even those who competed against Manning couldn't help but indulge in the sports world's biggest story of the moment. Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was among those who weren't in attendance but congratulated Manning on Monday:
Brian Urlacher @BUrlacher54
Congrats Peyton it was an honor to play against you. Enjoy the next chapter of your life #goat #sbchamp #manning3/7/2016, 4:54:25 AM
Manning's counterpart from Super Bowl 50, Cam Newton, had a classy Instagram post in which he described how Manning inspired him:
Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN referred to the leadership intangibles that allowed Manning to elevate the play of those around him—and gain the adoration of his adversaries, such as Urlacher, Newton and countless others:
Kirk Herbstreit @KirkHerbstreit
One last thing for young Qb's-Peyton sets the bar for how a QB should deflect the praise and takes all the heat. Result? Teammates respect!3/7/2016, 7:02:14 PM
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd went on at length about how thoroughly impressed he was with Manning's press conference:
Herd w/Colin Cowherd @TheHerd
"If you're ever going to retire, that's the way to do it." - @ColinCowherd on Peyton Manning's speech. #TheHerd https://t.co/QM46V3DRup3/7/2016, 6:55:37 PM
Actor Rob Lowe had the utmost respect for what Manning did, tweeting, "Peyton Manning's farewell speech: a clinic on class, gratitude, humor, intellect and emotion. Football's GOAT ambassador moves on. #18."
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller looked forward to the inevitable oration Manning will deliver when he gets his bust in Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
If that was Peyton's retirement speech, I can't wait for his Hall of Fame one.3/7/2016, 6:36:52 PM
Tiger Woods was among those welcoming Manning to life after football, tweeting, "It was an honor to watch #18 for all these years. He revolutionized the position." Woods added, "Now we can play more golf in the future, but this time I need shots."
Much is made of the celebrity and platform pro football brings—friends like Woods are a shining example of it.
As Manning acknowledged earlier, what separated him from most players in NFL history was his insatiable love not only for playing on Sundays, but also for the work that went into it. As he said, others may have been more physically gifted or naturally talented.
But he simply outworked everyone, and it culminated in the all-time passing touchdowns mark of 539, a total of 71,940 passing yards and a 96.5 passer rating to go with two Lombardi Trophies.
The blend of cerebral smarts, relentless drive to be the best and gaudy numbers ensures Manning will be in the conversation of the greatest QBs and best football players ever.
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