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. #1 COLTS FAN

    I cant remeber any other QB that has finished thier career with thier prospective team. besides John Elway but that doesnt count because he retired on top. but its a business and we can all be armchair mgrs and owners and qb's what would you do? we all play fanatsy football and i for one would have done the same thing if i were in Irsays shoes.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sarah

    coach for univ of tennessee

    March 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jack

    I hope Irsay doesn't sneak out in the middle of the night again. We need a GM with backbone. Didn't get that either.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lance corporal

    payton, dude, save your spine and stop, you will always be remembered as one of the greats of the game and for good reason but do you want to be able to pickup your grandkids???? you have money and tons of options, preserve your health, nothin but love brother but it's time to hang up the cleats

    March 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    Kind of like Pujols leaving St Louis.... People, when one player asks for so much money you can't afford to pay anyone else, then that's a problem (unless you're talking golf or some other individual sport). Sentimentally, it sucks in the short term for him to leave. But he made the choice too. Coming off MAJOR surgery he could have restructured to take less money with higher incentives but he didn't. Irsay and Manning realized it was better for Indy to use the money elsewhere AND better for Manning to not have to suffer through rebuilding at the end of his career. It was and is his choice where he wants to end his career.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dot8

    YELL OUT LOUD!!! The Cowboys need a QB!!!, sure could use Peyton.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew

    What a bunch of bologne!!! They don't want to let him go but have to. That's BS! They could keep him as well as the new QB. The new QB could learn from Manning for 2-3 years because they sure won't be leading the Colts to winning seasons right away. It usually takes 2-3 years for a new fresh-out-of-college QB to become a star!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Then they would have had to pay him his 28 million or whatever it was. They couldn't afford to pay him and expect to have a shot at competing. Are you starting to understand? If they pay him, they can't afford to sign any decent players at other positions. There is such a thing as a salary cap. Ever hear of it? Idiot.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • dot8

      Yes...the NFL is a business empire, all the owners care about is PROFIT.

      March 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      It used to take a few years for a rookie QB to hit his stride but with the new rules, not anymore. Look at Cam Newton and Andy Dalton just last year. Luck is way better than either of them. It would be a mistake to pay Peyton the $28 million and keep him and Luck. Now if Peyton really wants to stay in Indy he could just re-sign with them but how many people think that's going to happen?

      March 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • wavejump1100

      thats ok we need him in miami

      March 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David M

    Big mistake, Indy. Yes, he's getting close to the end of his career, but you have NO ONE to replace him. Have you already forgotten the miserable season you just had? Get ready for a few more of them while you live at the bottom of the divisional standings. I'm a Pats fan and the Colts – Pats games were always good, but they won't be good again for a few years. Unless you make some incredible trades to ensure you have a competetive team, your ticket sales are about to tumble.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      No one to replace him? They're going to be drafting the surest thing since John Elway.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anne

    I really like Peyton, and wish him the best. But I am simply appalled by the NFL player salaries. No one is worth that kind of money. Yes I know it is just untempered capitalism, but that doesn't make it right.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitt

      Go back to Russia you commie!

      March 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. G

    I like Peyton, but since I don't get a dime of his cash, I could care less where he plays.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Giant Megaphone

    Peyton come home to to the Vol Nation and coach

    March 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. onintwo

    Any owner who would slither out of its city in the middle of the night would have no second thoughts about letting go the second best quarterback in team history.

    March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      Do you even know the story behind them leaving Baltimore? First of all it wasn't Jim Irsay and second of all it was the city's fault the team left. The Irsay's gave them every opportunity to fix the stadium situation and they wouldn't/couldn't. Just like this Peyton situation it was a business move, not personal.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ColoNative75

    The Broncos need a quarterback. I wish he would come here!!!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billiam Hillary

      You mean you are not happy with Saint Timmay?

      March 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronnie Robles

      How quickly Broncos fans forget who took them to the playoffs last year.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. me

    Isray family is REAL loyal huh. (Lets just ask Baltimore)

    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. what.

    so the world has ended?

    March 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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