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. good ole fashioned loyalty there boy.....

    I'm sure Minnesota will give them all their first, second and third round picks like they did for Hershel Walker......Their front office is still trying to figure out what went wrong with that one...

    March 8, 2012 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. cas

    Stop Kony

    March 8, 2012 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
    • RD

      ^
      Moron who doesn't realize kony hasn't been in uganda for years and that the LRA hasn't been active since 2006. Oh and that the invisible children charity is a scam. The whole cony thing will be forgotten after a week just like a darfur. How well did wearing bracelets work to fix darfur (hint it didn't change anything)

      March 8, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. why

    I enjoy the NFL – and the Manning is football gold. I enjoy the distraction of SPORTS – but I think it is crazy that this is such a big headline in the news. The team that gets him will be hopeful – sad good bye to Indy – yea, a big deal in the NFL and we need sports as a distraction – I enjoy 'em. But this is not life or death – it is a great athlete making one last move in his career – big if he brings a Super Bowl to a new team – BUT COME ON – this is not World News!

    March 8, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
    • squid

      you do realize you're reading the sports section, right?

      March 8, 2012 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • steven S

      squid, this was posted under US News (not the sports section)

      ...and I totally agree with "why" for that reason.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. fan

    he wasn't choked up emotionally, he was choking on all the money he made standing on the sideline.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Russell

      Peyton Manning does everything for that team. The Colts would have no fan base, no playoff appearances, no Super Bowls without him. Peyton deserved everything he got paid.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. ;sdkgf

    I watched the teary eyed news conference and they both said it was not about the money, they wished Manning could stay with the Colts. Therefore it must be about winnning. The Colts are going to be so bad next year that even Manning wouldn't be able to save them. I predict they should get next years first round pick too.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Russell

      Peyton Manning took the team 10-6 last season. 1 player leaves (Manning) and the Colts go 2-14. What does that tell you?

      March 8, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. chumbawumba

    Who cares?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. rtbrno65

    Peyton Manning needs to retire. He had multiple neck surgeries and he's lucky he's not paralyzed. There are too many other things he can do. He can go into acting, sportscasting, politics, coaching, anything. He doesn't need to risk his health, especially playing for one of those crap teams that are interested in him.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Bleh64

      While i do agree with yuo, anyone that says it's not about the money is full of bull$h1t lol. Peyton may not sign with a team that is super bowl bound, but if a team offers him enough money, he will play for them, but again, all that said i agree, why risk permanent disablement of basic motor functions when he has so many other options open to him.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • KeithB

      He cannot 'go into' acting and I assume he is not interested in politics. After his most recent surgery, every doctor that examined him confirmed that he has no increased risk. There are 12 teams interested in him. It is safe to say that some of those teams are not 'crap' (Jets and Broncos are two obvious examples)

      March 8, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Techin

      Because it matters, it matters to the people and state of Indiana. And to some extent, it matters to millions and millions of football fans nationwide.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joi Gibson

    Maybe he'll come to the Dolphins. We desperately need a quarterback!!!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Feast of Beast

    Tearful and choked up? I know I am, thinking about how someone like him has to worry about which team he wants to join to make tens of millions more dollars to throw a ball around. Why is this news? Why is it the top story?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. RD

    Seriously?????? This is front page news? Please CNN have some self respect and leave the sports garbage to ESPN.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jim

    Thats how you go out with style. Good luck Peyton !

    March 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. abby in Texas

    I have always admired Peyton (and Eli, too), but there comes a time when it's time to call it quits. All the glory and money will not be worth the injuries.... He's playing a game and if he continues to play one day he might be injured in a manner in which he will not recover and from which no surgery will help. Maybe someone will help him see reason, maybe not.

    I wish him the best, but I think it's time for him to quit.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zzz

    Peyton was a great quarterback and I wish him all the best, but come on. He is getting old, has had health problems, and should be sitting on a pile of money. He should go find something else to do before he gets seriously injured.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. joy killer :)

    come one every human is replaceable, nobody will remember you and they don't care about you in the next couple hundreds years if we are not destroying ourselves with nuclear weapon.

    all his superfan won't care about him in the next 40 years when themselves facing death!!!!!

    in the mean time GO GIANTS....

    ELI owns BRADY

    Good luck Peyton Manning

    March 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. iconomania

    Hi guys

    March 22, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
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