Peyton Manning leaving Colts
Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts past the Chicago Bears to win Super Bowl XLI.
March 7th, 2012
12:48 PM ET

Peyton Manning leaving Colts

[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] A tearful Peyton Manning announced the end of his 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, but said he plans to be playing in the NFL again.

In a press conference with Colts owner Jim Irsay, the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player said circumstances had brought his time with the Colts to an end, despite both the wishes of him and Irsay that things could have worked out differently.

"It wasn't his decision. It wasn't my decision. Circumstances kind of dictated it," Manning said.

Manning did not play during the entire 2011 season after having surgery to repair a neck injury. With their longtime leader off the field, the Colts plummeted to a 2-14 record and earned the top pick in April's NFL Draft. That makes Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III available to them. Both are considered franchise quarterbacks, much like Manning was when the Colts selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft. The Colts are expected to take Luck or Griffin and begin to rebuild the team.

Irsay said Wednesday keeping Manning during that rebuilding process wouldn't be fair to Manning and would prevent the team from having the money necessary to revamp its roster. The Colts would have owed Manning a $28 million bonus if he'd remained on their roster past Wednesday.

"Just to sign our draft picks, we're going to have to make more roster moves," Irsay said. Manning deserves better at the end of a Hall of Fame-level career, he said.

"Hopefully, we'll watch Peyton win immediately," Irsay said.

WISH-TV: Where Manning may go next

Manning's doctors have cleared him to play for the 2012 season and he's been seen recently working out at Duke University. The quarterback said he plans to be on the field in the coming season.

"I don't want to retire... Nobody loves playing quarterback more than me," Manning said.

The Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals are considered the top contenders to sign Manning.

In the meantime, the Colts will retire his jersey number.

"The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field," Irsay said.

Both Manning and Irsay choked up as they made the announcement that Manning would continue his NFL career elsewhere.

"This town and this team mean so much to me," Manning said. "I do love it here.

"I've been blessed to play here and been blessed to be in the NFL," he said, his voice breaking. "I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback."

Though his team will more than likely have another potential superstar in Luck or Manning, Irsay said Manning has defined the franchise.

"There will be no other Peyton Manning," he said, choking up as he held the quarterback's arm.

CNNMoney: Manning to remain endorsement star

[Updated 12:11 p.m. ET] Quarterback Peyton Manning announced Wednesday he will not return to the Indianapolis Colts for the 2012 season.

"This town and this team mean so much to me," Manning said. "I do love it here.I will leave the Colts with good thoughts," he said.

"I've been blessed to play here and been blessed to be in the NFL," Manning said, his voice breaking.

"I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback," Manning said.

Manning said he has not determined where he will play next.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said he hates to part with Manning, but the team doesn't have the resources to surround Manning with the players that will make him successful.

"It's be very difficult for both Jim and I," Manning said."It's weighed real heavy on my heart but I am at peace with it," he said of the decision.

He said he and Irsay remain close and have supported each other during the decision-making process.

[Updated 12:03 p.m. ET] Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and team owner Jim Irsay announced Wednesday that Manning will end his 14-year career with the team.

Irsay the called the announcement "a difficult day of shared pain" in a noon news conference.

He said Manning's number would be retired by the only team he's ever played for.

"The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field," Irsay said.

"There will be no other Peyton Manning," Irsay said, choking up as he held the quarterback's arm.

[Posted 7:28 a.m. ET] Four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning is expected to announce today that he will be leaving the Indianapolis Colts, the only team he has played for in his 14-year career.

Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay are scheduled to appear at a noon ET press conference in Indianapolis to make the announcement.

The two flew into Indy from South Florida together on Tuesday night, according to media reports.

"We'll see ya'll tomorrow. We're gonna talk tomorrow," Irsay told reporters after arriving in Indianapolis, ESPN.com reported.

"We're going to do this the right way. We'll talk to you guys tomorrow," Manning said, according to CNN affiliate WISH-TV. Wednesday morning, Irsay tweeted, "It was a long, emotional flight ... now the sun is trying to rise." The Colts will release Manning rather than pay him a $28 million bonus he is due on Thursday if he remains on the Indianapolis roster.

Manning was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the Colts. He became their starting quarterback that year and led them to 11 playoff berths, two conference championships and one Super Bowl victory.

But Manning sustained a neck injury during the 2010 season and was forced to sit out the entire 2011 season after having surgery to fuse vertebrae in his neck.

The Colts plummeted to a 2-14 record without Manning, which gained them the first pick in April's NFL draft. They are expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck or Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III with that pick. Both are considered franchise quarterbacks, like Manning was when the Colts took him No. 1 in 1998.

Although he's expected to leave the only pro team he has played for, Manning's career is far from done. His doctors have cleared him to play and he's been working out at Duke University. He'll become a free agent and is expected to be sought after by several teams. Among the favorites to land the 35-year-old QB are the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans. ESPN reports that Manning is expected to work out for select teams once he narrows his choices.

Colts fans were sad to see their city's shining star on his way elsewhere.

"I wouldn't be nearly as big a fan without him," CNN affiliate WTHR-TV quoted fan Aly Wiggs as saying.

"I'm disgusted. Manning is who Indianapolis is. He's our identity and what he's done for the community. He's more than a football player," Bob Nellish told WTHR.

Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz says fans will be angry with Irsay for letting the pride of the city and the state leave town.

"It's impossible to overstate the civic impact Manning had on this franchise, on this city and on this region. He did it not only as an athlete but as a philanthropist. He was, and still is, the most important athlete ever to grace the playing fields of Indianapolis," Kravitz wrote Wednesday morning.

In 1999, Manning and his wife established the PeyBack Foundation in Indianapolis to help disadvantaged youth. It has donated more than $4.3 million since its founding to youth causes in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana, according to the foundation's website.

In 2007, in honor of Manning's work, St. Vincent Children's Hospital in Indianapolis was renamed Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. The city's Children's Museum, Boys and Girls Clubs, and high school football players have all been helped by Manning, according to a WTHR report.

"There will be lots of tears today at that news conference," Kravitz writes. "Without No. 18, the Colts might not still be in Indianapolis. Certainly, there's no Lucas Oil Stadium, and there's no Indianapolis Super Bowl. His impact is incalculable.

"The statue goes up immediately," Kravitz says.

In the cities that covet Manning, it was websites and billboards that were going up.

In Miami, there was manningtomiami.com, complete with Manning depicted in a Dolphins uniform, a link to a petition to be presented to Dolphins owners and a shop to buy Manning in Miami T-shirts.

"When's the last time we the fans have had an 'impact' quarterback? What about the most cerebral quarterback of all time?" the Miami site asks. "Get behind this movement and let your vote be your voice and make a difference!"

In Phoenix, the peyton2az website showed a picture of a billboard erected in the city by a local mattress retailer. "Peyton Manning, please sleep here," it pleaded.

"The city will be his forever if he could bring a Super Bowl to the Valley of the Sun," a commenter wrote on the site.

Time.com: Colts dump Manning, everyone wins

SI.com: Icons at the end of the road

SI.com: Rare Manning pictures

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Filed under: Football • Indiana • Peyton Manning • Pro football • Sports
soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. PEDO-BEAR

    Yawn...
    Amazingly the reports from Colts camp is just that they are releasing him from his contract. Nothing else, and all the news media pick up that he is leaving the team. Indy is just freeign up the money and will re-sign him to a new and less expensive contract so that he can mentor their new QB from the draft.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Football wisdom

      No Manning, no Colts, no wins, no fans, no money. Wise up.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • timmy

      doubtful considering they just signed him last summer to his deal. He is not staying in Indy.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • JUGGERNAUT

      @Football wisdom

      manning was not the only person on the field, take more than one person to win a game.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      "manning was not the only person on the field, take more than one person to win a game."

      I highly recommend a review of last season's results. You really need to pay attention.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • bam

      ELI 2 SB Rings 2 SB MVP > PEYTON 1SB Ring
      Sit down big bro droopy lip has taken over

      March 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      "LI 2 SB Rings 2 SB MVP > PEYTON 1SB Ring"

      Because rings are everything, right? Dan Marino would like a word with you.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. areacode612

    Pretty crazy how this all worked out. If Manning was healthy last year, the Colts wouldn't have the first overall pick.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • sweetness

      Wow, you came up with that all by yourself? you smart!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bruce

    Great player but at this stage, not worth the 28 million due him. Too risky.

    Luck and Griffin are both franchise players? I don't think so. Luck, yes.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • timmy

      Bruce, then why did Irsay sign the contract last July KNOWING Manning had neck problems? Why did he offer manning a $28M bonus? to make himself look good to the fans.

      And you speculate Luck will be a franchise QB. He could very well be the next Ryan Leaf

      March 7, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Timmy, it's one thing to offer 28M but another to actually pay it out.
      Irsay's not paying. There's your answer.
      I'm all-in on Luck. Yes, he could be the next Ryan Leaf. I hope not. Only time will tell.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      If you don't think Luck will be great, not even just good but great, you have no idea what you're talking about. There hasn't been as sure a thing as Luck since John Elway.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mark prinz

    Hate to see him go. This sux.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. mecatfish

    He should have been up for MVP last year even though he didnt play. Never thought 1 guy could make such a huge difference.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Robert Murray

    Life long Colts fan, I'm 60, letting Peyton go is the worst thing to happen to the Colts since leaving Baltimore in the middle of the night. Indianapolis fans now know how it feels to have your heart torn out by the Irsays.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisconsin

      Bla bla bla – packers lost farve, everyone cryied it was the end of the packer world and now look how it turned out. Farve who.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      The NFL's a business and it made absolutely no business sense to keep Manning (for the $28 million bonus at least, if you can bring him back without paying that then by all means do it).

      March 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bails

    sure wished he would coach my VOLS !!!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Shaman13

      Amen to that one! Dooley has about a year left to get himself established here. Frankly, I don't see him making much progress. I hope he does, cuz I like him as a human being. But that's not enough reason to keep him in the job is today's SEC. Peyton could walk into Knoxville and displace Dooley in a heartbeat. I'd say Peyton is about 10 years away from that step though.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. FJ59

    Colts should sign Matt Flynn immediately then trade the #1 pick so the Colts can draft more waepons and some protection for Flynn.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • FJ59

      Of course, weapons will work better than waepons!

      March 7, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Freshj

      Flynn could be another Kolb, Id be careful on that one

      March 7, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    Manning is on the downside of his career. He can't play forever. That's just life. There are two potential franchise quarterbacks there for the taking in the draft. If Manning stayed on, and his performance never returned to normal, everyone would be screaming about how the team wasted $28 million, and how they could have had Luck or Griffin. Now is the time to move forward. It's nothing personal, it's just business.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Rich in TX

      There are potential franchise quarterbacks in every draft, though. Manning is a proven winner. Dance with the one which brung ya, I say. I like the idea of trading the #1 overall pick for more first-round picks to plug holes. The Colts have a LOT of holes.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Rich in TX

      Of course, the marketing boost that can be gained by a guy with the name of Luck wearing a uniform with horseshoes... they'll probably even give him #7.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Shaman13

    Doesn't matter to me if they cut him or not. I'm a Peyton fan, not a Colts fan. No matter where the man plays, that's where my loyalty will go. I kind of hope he does move to another team, cuz I'm sick of wearing blue on game day!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. Vols Fan

    What a huge mistake. I only became a Colts fan because of Peyton. Now I will get rid of all my Colts stuff. I should donate them to the homeless but, they probably wouldn't even want to wear them either. Peyton has given this team 14 great years of his life & this is the thanks he gets ???? I personally would like to see Peyton retire because I'm afraid one good hard hit might injure him for life. I have the perfect solution for him, he needs to come back to Tennessee & become the Head Coach for the Tennesee Vols. We love Peyton here in TN. & it would be so AWESOME to have him back on the hill wearing Orange & White.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      The thanks he got was millions upon millions of dollars for being the best at a recreational past time. Also, way to expose yourself as a fly-by-night fraud of a team fan.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Lisa carson

    I became a Colts fan because of Peyton and the thought of him leaving is uncomprehensible. It's like loosing a member of my family and the tears are flowing.
    He gave up being the highest paid player in the NFL for the team and that meant little to nothing to Irsay.
    How soon he forgets. No disrespect to the rest of the team, but Lucas Field is the house that Peyton built.
    I will still wear my Blue but with a black armband to signify how much Peyton meant to me as a Colt. I will never be the dedicated Colts fan I once was.
    Peyton will be remembered for being a great humanitarian, one of the greatest Colts/ players ever.
    Out of respect for Peyton, I will follow his example and not bash Irsay, as I would love too.
    Thank you Peyton!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sad

    Way to go Indy....use him to get what you want then dump him when the bill is due.
    Indy is a looooooser!!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. T. Lee

    NFL = Not For Long

    Jerry Granville

    March 7, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • T. Lee

      (make that "Glanville")

      March 7, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. cntryby

    Watch this. Drew Brees will not accept the Saints franchise tag. He becomes a free agent and Manning comes to New Orleans. Sounds crazy but I see it happening.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Freshj

      no way, hes goin to Zona, or pulling a Montana and going to KC

      March 7, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • realtalker1

      I don't think it will happen but I do kinda see it as being possible. Brees is very upset with the saints right now. But then Peyton Manning is a classy guy. A move like that could kill that reputation. That's kinda why Brees is so upset with his team, because his reputation was at risk after this........shall we say.......scandal came out.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
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