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. tbone

    ..who cares??!! what these overpaid "un necessities" do...

    March 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mister Jones

      They are elite athletes who perform in the most popular, highest-grossing, most-watched sport of all time. What do you do?

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

      Manny is an ASSETS. He makes money for people. He should be paid for what he is worth.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • dingwizard

      This is a sad day for the Colts organization. Peyton Manning was the best player that has ever wore a Colts uniform since Johnny Unitas. It's going to be strange to see him in a different NFL uniform next season.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Jealous?

      March 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. KB

    It's pretty sad, Manning is the reason, i a "foreigner" know jim irsay. I knew him as a man, but he proved everyone otherwise, what a P he is, just by manning coming back after injury, people would pay off that 28mil in new jersays over night. He's a sole loser...

    March 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danny

      Where did you learn to write? My goodness, I have not the slightest idea what you just wrote. You truly are in need of going back to grammer school to learn to write. Nothing but gibberish.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      @ Danny

      It's "grammar", not "grammer". Where did you learn to write?

      March 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJW3

      Maybe there really is a school called Grammer school. How embarrassing for you.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. patti

    I'm sure no matter Peyton ends up... it will absolutely be a WIN WIN situation for all....... Good Luck ....

    March 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. leeintulsa

    maybe he'll do me a favor and stay out of the afc.

    go PATS!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • bruceinBoston

      pats .....lmao

      March 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TPF

    It's that way in every business, when you get paid too much it's time form them to put you out to pasture. Thanks for all the great memories to all the great ones that have gone on to do other things. They all leave very very wealthy and in most other professions people leave and are a fixed income. So they have been very blessed and rewarded very well. Everyone is replaceable, each one of us, they don't miss a beat when you leave.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      last season is a testament to how 'replaceable' he is..

      March 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Donald in CA

    It was a good ride Peyton, go to another team and help them win a super bowl. One thing about getting older, you dont get better looking or healthier.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zaphod617

      I saw this coming when they cleaned out the front office. I'm a bills fan and the worse mistake Buffalo ever made, and they made plenty, was getting rid of Polian.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark J

    This is sad to watch but, I hope he ends up in Miami. Even if it is just for a few years till he does retire.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      curb your tongue..

      March 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I hope he ends up in Miami and flops, I can't stand either one of them (Dolphins and Manning).

      March 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nomercy101

    efer better go to the redskins, that POS owes me some wins.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. scott

    It must be hard for the colts fans to realize, that in the end, they are just another football team.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Robert Ueberrhein

    What can you say about a player who's done so much for football,kids,and all who have followed him.
    God Bless you Peyton Manning. I don't believe the Colt's realize what their losing.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TexInd

    The guy was with them for 14 seasons and is the only reason anyone takes the Colts serious. Who in professional sports wants to live in a 3rd tier market like Indy? They owedd this guy more than the 28million plus for all the money he made for that crappy city!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John Mahon

    For my part, I would not have cared if he had never played at all. Same goes for that golf guy Woods!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joshua Martin

    One overpaid sports jock down, let's just keep moving along people.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @joshua, et al: why do you read a thread about manning/nfl? and even comment?

      just wanna whine? you don't like football, so it shouldn't be a thing?

      don't you have a bird to watch, or some other gay hobby, or you just love to hate?

      if you are not into football, it's kinda none of your business.. isn't it?

      lame

      March 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Agent P

    One more solid hit and he may never play again.... or worse. They can either afford Manning, OR they can afford the #1 draft pick quarterback. This was a difficult, but incredibly smart move by the Colts. As for Manning, both for his health and his legacy, he should gracefully retire.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bjn72

    Jokes on Manning leaving the Colts:
    What song will they be playing as Manning empty's his locker.... "Hit The Road Jack"

    What song will they be playing as Manning leaves Indy...." Hey, Hey, Goodbye"

    March 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
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