Four years to the day after saying goodbye to the Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning bid an emotional farewell to the NFL.
“Football has taught me not to be led by obstructions and setbacks but instead to be led by my dreams,” Denver’s quarterback announced at Broncos team headquarters in Englewood, Colorado.
Manning told of meeting Johnny Unitas early in his career. “Peyton, you stay at it,” the former Baltimore Colts quarterback told him. “I’m pulling for you.” Manning reflected, “I hope he knows that I have stayed at it,” adding while choking up: “I hope he’s proud of me.”
Manning exuded respect for the game of football throughout the event. “I revere football,” he explained. “I love the game.”
Manning won five MVPs and two Super Bowls, including the most recent championship game in Santa Clara, during his 18-year career with the Colts and Broncos. He leaves the game owning records for passing yards and touchdowns, for both a single-season and a career, and regular season wins as a quarterback.
“Grateful is the word that comes to my mind when thinking of the Denver Broncos,” Manning reflected. He retired without forcing the Broncos to first release him, which suggests the departure will be permanent because Manning would not become a free agent should he decide to return.
“This an historic day for the Denver Broncos and the National Football League,” Broncos President Joe Ellis told a packed room of journalists, teammates, and family members. The Broncos CEO noted that the Denver Broncos enjoyed the highest winning percentage in the league during Manning’s stint in Denver. “Peyton Manning made our team better, he made our organization better, and he made our community better.”
“Peyton Manning revolutionized the game,” declared Broncos general manager John Elway. He added, “Peyton Manning utilized every asset that god gave him to be the best football player he could be.”
Manning endured injuries and a critical press during the 2015 season. After playing his worst game as a professional against Kansas City in which he completed five passes and threw four interceptions, Manning appeared done. But after resting and rehabbing an injury, Manning roared back in the playoffs by helping the Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and, in the Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers.
“There were other players who were more talented,” Manning conceded. “But no one could out prepare me. And because of that I have no regrets