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. Freshj

    For the top positions in footballl, QB, RB, WR......Manning is the guy with the most class of alll of them. I hope he gets healthy and puts together 2-3 years of awesome football.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. jeremy

    Come on over to Seattle.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sam

    Peyton IS Indy. We love him and watching him play. If it weren't for him bringing the fans in, we wouldn't have Lucas Oil Stadium. No matter where he goes, this family will become a fan of that team. So sorry for the Colts loss. Peyton fans all the way here.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. WVLADY63

    The Colts will never be the same. Peyton Manning IS the Colts. The stadium is the "house that Peyton built." That says it all.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ray

    Sad. I've been a Colts fan for 14 years because of Manning. He's a great QB and the Colts 2-14 record last season proves it. He IS the franchise. I would love to see him win another championship with a different team. Great embassador of the sport.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. luckyponytoo

    I'm sad to see this happen, although I can understand where the Colts are coming from. After last year's horrible season, they need to start from scratch as a team, and there's little reason to build it on the shoulders of a guy who probably only has a few seasons left before retirement. They'd be looking at having to start all over again at that point. And, really, maybe they are doing him a favor after all he's done for them over the years. Why burden him with a terrible team? Hopefully he will go somewhere that already has a decent team, but just needs a great QB to take them to the next level.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisconsin

      very true. as they rebuild, he cannot afford to take too many hits and you are right that he needs to go to a team that just needs a QB. Sounds like Indy if offering him and a great WR package deal. That would be good for someone out there.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. rickygf

    Manning one the best ever. I wish him a lot of luck where ever he goes, he's a class guy

    March 7, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Here's to hoping Manning still has a few good years left in him

    March 7, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. longtooth

    A great quarterback, and he makes funny commercials too. As a Pats fan, I hope he stays out of our division. The Colts made a tough business decision, as Manning doubtless knows.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    The Colts had no choice given the unknown of whether Peyton will ever play effectively again. It is the correct business call. Manning has a smuch class as any player that ever put on the pads and I wish him nothing but the best.

    This deal is similar to a loving spouse that dies from cancer. Both spouses lose and no one really was at fault.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • realtalker1

      Please. It's his neck that was injured not his legs or throwing arm and his brain is his best asset anyways. He is good because he is smart. Obviously you have to be athletic as well but he's recovered from his injury and it shouldn't effect his throwing ability. The only risk is if he has a weak spot in his neck but even half par is excellent for Peyton Manning. The colts threw him under the bus is what they did. They knew that he's only got a few good years left in him until he retires. And they would have certainly been a good team for those remaining years meaning they wouldn't have gotten a decent draft pick. So they got rid of manning to start building the colts of the future. No doubt they'll be pitiful again next year and for a few years to come. Which is exactly what they want. A rebuilding season.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. realtalker1

    Someones feathers got ruffled by manning. He was the team. Plain and simple. With him you made playoffs ussually at the very least. Without him you can't win any real games. This has been proven and now he's been cleared to play and you send him packing. Colts were my favorite team til today. Basically manning was the only thing they had going for them. I'm not a fan anymore.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Wisconsin

    To all indy fans take a note from your close neighbors. Packers lost farve, everyone cryied it was the end of the packer world and now look how it turned out. Farve who. Manning is seriously messed up, he knew it and went for a kill shot contract. Shame on him but it is only business. He can play somewhere else and the colts can rebuild two years sooner then they thought they were going to have to. Big deal.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • realtalker1

      I actually always thought Favre was the problem with the packers. I south mississippian who lived just a couple of miles from Favres Mississippi home, I always considered myself a Favre fan so believe me I say that with the utmost respect. But this really is different. Even with Manning still on the team we have had a glimpse of what a Manningless colts team will look like. The packers only had one bad season after Favre left and Rodgers actually wasn't the issue. He played a great season. We all knew they'd bounce back. The colts has a history of losing prior to Manning. Since we have a glimpse into a manningless team, it's pretty easy to reasonably conclude that they aren't going to be very good for a few years at least.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. erich2112x

    I wouldn't pay an extra 28 million to a player that's 14 years in, and coming off the injured list either.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • realtalker1

      Manning brought more money to the colts than that just sitting on the bench. He has made them what they are. Once he leaves. The colts will be insignificant once again.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Only in America

    I hope he does not come to Washington, a class act does not need to become embroiled in our inbred group of sycophants.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Scott Saddler

    Feel the pain. We lost Brett Farve 3 time MVP, Superbowl Champ and leading QB for most statistics after 17 years so deal with it. Good quarterbacks are too expensive in today's game and the statistics of winning Super Bowls at that age significantly decrease. You can buy a lot of players for $28MM. Indianapolis has other issues besides QB, even if he did come back the look and feel of the team will be dramatically changed, better off starting some place new. Like Brett the expectations of being with a new team will be high and non-performance will hinder his legacy. Maybe he should just retire on top.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • DebW

      Favre lost a lot of respect after his huge, tearful event, "I have nothing left to give. . ." that didn't stick. At least you have Aaron Rodgers. I hope Andrew Luck is all he's hyped up to be

      March 7, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
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