One of the most brilliant careers in NFL history has come to an end, as news trickled out Sunday that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will call it quits following a Super Bowl 50 triumph over the Carolina Panthers and weeks of speculation.
The Broncos and Indianapolis Colts thanked Manning for his services, while the NFL posted a graphic of his accomplishments on Twitter:
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Manning will officially announce his retirement during a press conference Monday at 1 p.m. ET.
Ben Swanson of the Broncos' official website provided a statement from general manager John Elway:
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. Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more—not only for the football team but in the community. I'm very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.
Swanson also provided a statement from head coach Gary Kubiak:
It was a blessing to coach Peyton Manning. Nobody worked harder at the game and nobody prepared harder than Peyton. His preparation was the best I've ever seen with how he went about his business. There was nothing like his work habits. Each and every week, he did everything he could to get ready to play not only against the defense but even against the coordinator.
Being with him this season, going through what we went through and accomplishing what we accomplished—that was special. He and I battled together and along the way we talked about dreaming that it could end the way it ended. And I'll be damned, it did.
Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke about his former quarterback's contributions to the game in a statement released on Sunday, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
Few have left their marks on a sport as Peyton Manning has. Simply put, he revolutionized NFL football. Peyton energized it as had no one before him, he made it more fun for our fans, and made the game better.
Off the field, Peyton has been a tremendous ambassador for the game and the epitome of someone who gives back to the community. He is the most recognizable face in the history of the NFL, and perhaps its most popular.
I will miss seeing No. 18 on the field on Sundays and I am proud and thankful for all he’s done for the Colts, our community, and the NFL. On behalf of Colts and NFL fans worldwide, I thank Peyton and congratulate him on an incredible career.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also released a statement on Manning's retirement, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk:
Peyton Manning’s extraordinary career was driven by his talent, an incredible work ethic, and an unwavering desire to be the best and ended so perfectly for him with a Super Bowl victory. Peyton’s competitive fire and love of the game made him a legendary player who thrilled fans for a generation. He has served as a great representative of the NFL both on the field and in his community. We are forever grateful for Peyton’s unmatched contributions to the game and know that his success will continue in the next phase of his life.
Florio reported Manning first started informing teammates of the decision to retire via text message on Saturday night.
ESPN's Andrew Brandt, citing Spotrac, noted Manning "will leave the NFL with far and away the most career earnings of any player: $249 million."
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith released a statement on behalf of the NFLPA on Manning's contributions to the game:
The Union of NFL Players congratulates Peyton Manning on a tremendous career of leadership and for how he changed the game on and off the field. Players of every generation should know him as someone who cared deeply not just about the football, but about the people who have made the sport what it is today. From his dedication to the history of the game to his decision in 2011 to stand up for the rights of every player, past, present and future, we know that he will continue to be an example to others long after his playing career.
Following Denver's 20-18 AFC Championship Game win, NFL Films' cameras caught the signal-caller telling New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, "Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo."
And while Manning played it cool in front of a national audience following the Broncos' latest Super Bowl win, saying he would take his time to ponder the decision in an interview with CBS' Jim Nantz, his parents seemed to indicate a ride off into the sunset would be in their son's best interest.
"I would like for Peyton to retire, I would," Olivia Manning said following the Super Bowl, per ESPN's Ian O'Connor.
Around the same time, Archie Manning reportedly told NFL Network's Jeff Darlington he thought his son's playing days in Denver were over following a successful final act.
Gary Myers of the New York Daily News provided Archie's thoughts on his son's retirement: "'We are proud of Peyton’s career and the man he is,' his dad...texted me on Sunday before getting on a plane to Denver for Eli’s older brother’s 1 p.m. retirement announcement Monday. 'We didn’t try to influence one way or the other. He thinks it’s time and it is a good time.'"
Here's a look at some of the notable records Manning owns following 18 combined years with the Broncos and Indianapolis Colts:
- Most passing yards in NFL history (71,940)
- Most passing touchdowns in NFL history (539)
- Single-season passing yards (5,477)
- Single-season passing touchdowns (55)
- Most passing touchdowns in a single game (tied—7)
- One of two quarterbacks (along with Brett Favre) to beat all 32 teams
- First quarterback with 200 career victories (including playoffs)
Manning rounded out his career by throwing for 2,249 yards, nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions during a 2015 season that was interrupted by a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
The injury limited him to nine regular-season starts and precipitated Brock Osweiler's brief takeover as the team's starting quarterback. But the 39-year-old regained the gig in Week 17 amid the 25-year-old's struggles and helped lead the Broncos to Super Bowl 50.
While the 2015 regular season will represent a not-so-spectacular line on Manning's otherwise pristine resume, he'll first be remembered for crafting the Colts into a perennial powerhouse from 2002 to 2010.
A five-time MVP, Manning led the Colts to a 1999 AFC East title in just his second year under center after Indianapolis selected him No. 1 overall in the 1998 draft out of Tennessee.
|Peyton Manning's Notable Regular-Season Numbers|
|QB Record||Completion %||Pass Yds||Pass TD||QB Rating||Fourth-Quarter Comebacks||Game-Winning Drives|
Manning and the Colts proceeded to rip off five straight AFC South titles between 2003 and 2007 and went on to capture a Super Bowl XLI victory over the Chicago Bears. In the 29-17 win, Manning earned MVP honors by completing 25 of his 38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown.
Manning and the Colts weren't as fortunate in Super Bowl XLIV, when the New Orleans Saints emerged with a 31-17 victory thanks to Tracy Porter's 74-yard game-sealing pick-six of Manning late in the fourth quarter. Despite getting hit with the loss, Manning stood tall and completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 333 yards and a score.
Manning also proved to be one of the more durable players in the league over the course of his career, starting all 16 games during each of his first 13 seasons. However, neck surgeries prior to the 2011 season resulted in Manning's release from Indianapolis after he failed to play a down during the Colts' 2-14 finish that paved the way for Andrew Luck's selection at No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft.
The divorce and momentary downfall of the Colts proved to be an emotional ordeal for the esteemed gunslinger as he parted ways with the only franchise he had ever known.
"Nobody loves their job more than I do," Manning said upon being cut in March 2012, per ESPN. "Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do. I still want to play. But there is no other team I wanted to play for."
Manning went on to round out his career in successful fashion with the Broncos—even if the 2015 season was a roller-coaster ride.
En route to capturing his record fifth MVP in 2013, Manning set single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns after opening the season by tying an NFL record with seven touchdown strikes against the Baltimore Ravens. Later that season, the Broncos defeated the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game before getting trounced by the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Two losses on the game's grandest stage previously represented blotches on Manning's resume, but his ability to transition to the role of game manager allowed him to ride the coattails of Denver's dominant defense to a second ring, 200 career victories and a departure as a champion.
With legendary status locked up and a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his future, Manning can hang up his helmet knowing he'll be remembered as one of the most surgical passers the NFL has ever seen.