Eighteen years and out for No. 18. Super Bowl 50 champ Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, March 7, after 18 seasons of playing professional football with the Indianapolis Colts and, most recently, the Denver Broncos.
Grinning and crying, a sniffly Manning to the podium at Denver's UCHealth Training Center. "There's something about 18 years," Manning, 39, told reporters. "18's a good number, and today I retire from football."
Choking up in intervals throughout his announcement, Manning got especially emotional while thanking his family. "There is no way to measure or properly express what a family like mine has meant to me," he said, naming his parents, brothers Eli Manning and Cooper Manning and his wife, Ashley Thompson. "And Ashley, your support is as potent as any man can have," the dad of two added.
He concluded his remarks on Monday with several thoughts. "Well, I fought a good fight," he said, referring to a Biblical passage. "I finished my football race. And after 18 years, it's time. God bless all of you and God bless football."
The five-time NFL MVP won his final championship ring last month at the 2016 Super Bowl at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. He currently holds several all-time records, including most career pass yards, most career quarterback wins (tied with Brett Favre) and more. Manning was the first overall draft pick in 1998, and played for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2011. Manning joined the Broncos in 2012, after sustaining a disappointing injury that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season with Indianapolis.
He walks away from the NFL after 18 seasons and two Super Bowl wins, one with each team. (The Colts won Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears in 2007.)
Broncos General Manager John Elway released a statement about Manning's accomplishments on Sunday night, shortly after the news of his retirement announcement broke. "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," Elway said.
He added on Monday during the presser: "Peyton Manning revolutionized the game… He got every ounce of ability that he's got. That's what makes him great… So, Peyton, congratulations. Thank you so much for being a Denver Bronco." After Elway and other Broncos execs spoke on Monday, a film about the quarterback's record-setting career was played.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen — who's currently on leave from the network as he continues treatment for stage IV throat cancer — was the first to break the story on Sunday, March 6. "Filed to ESPN," Mortensen announced on Sunday. "Five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning will announce his retirement Monday in Denver per source familiar with the QB's decision."
Even Manning's longtime rival Tom Brady congratulated him on Sunday for his illustrious NFL career. "You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better," Brady wrote on Facebook. "It's been an honor."
In an interview with MMQB's Peter King on Monday, Brady further praised Manning for going out with one final victory. "What just happened, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, is a perfect way to end a career," Brady reflected. "Who has lived up to the expectations year after year after year as well as Peyton? He's done it so gracefully, so admirably. He set the standard for how to play the quarterback position."
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