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. mullahfullahbullah

    I am a Colts fan only because of Manning. My allegiance will go where he goes. I just hope he picks a team with a great front line to protect him along with some good receivers. Good luck Peyton in whatever you choose to do. I hope you play several more years but want you to be able to walk when it is all said and done!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Asleep in Minnesota

    *yawn* and this surprises me....why? Oh and, Scott? We got Favre for a season...it didn't get us very far. But then again, our Vikes have a way of doing that to great quarterbacks...

    March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. phyllis

    I am sure Peyton will move on to bigger things, and he has lots of money already, so he will be fine........

    I hope the Colts find another QB, that will help them have a come back, to winning ways.............the Manning boys will be fine..........they all are rich, and have family's......................peace out..........

    March 7, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • dougp

      That actually sums it up pretty well.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. justfacts101

    Its a big gamble to keep a QB with vertebrae surgery @ 28 mil, but I hate to see him go.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sushimaster

    So it's fine for a team to release it's star player, but not for a star player to leave while healthy? Colts use the guy for 12 years, he gets a neck injury, then has to recover, now they want to release him BEFORE paying out the bonus he is due on his contract? But it's not ok for a healthy player like LeBron James to do what he thinks is best for him, and leave a loser team to go to another with better prospects? Can you say HYPOCRISY ? It's ok for teams (aka corporations) to treat people like dirt, but not ok for somebody to leave to make a better life for himself? Pathetic.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      Love your comment. So so true. Only sad thing is Lebron did it the wront way. There was no need to hype it up and let the Cleveland fans down by announcing it on live television. He should have told the owners and city first. However, I do agree with you every player needs to look out for themselves as do the teams.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam I. Am

      it's all spelled out in the contracts these guys sign. He could have chosen to NOT sign and have one written to better suit him. I'm sure he's not hurting for cash. A team signs players as a gamble, they never know about injuries, or if the player simply sucks in the pros... team takes risk, player accepts contract... or not. Don't blame the Colts.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • IgorBob

      heh... the only thing missing here is the truck sneaking Manning out of Indianapolis in the middle of the night... now the Irsay name can be hated in both Baltimore AND Indy...

      March 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SDR

    The real story is the injury to Manning. None of this happens unless Manning has a Redskin bounty on his head. NFL is just a few steps from becoming WWE

    March 7, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Peyton, you have nothing left to prove. You've made enough money to last the next umpteen generations of your family.
    Why take the chance of getting paralyzed or worse !?!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • DebW

      My thoughts exactly. We will miss him in Indy, but I wish him a safe (eventual) end to his career.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  8. Really?

    As a Colts fan I'm sad to see him go. Manning is the best thing to happen to this state for a long time... I am excited to see what we do in the draft, though, for all we know Luck might be as big of a bust as Dan Marino was.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ron

    Peyton's departure is unfortunate. However, this is the OWNER's decision and no one else's. He has more information than anyone and must make an informed decision. It is also his money that is at stake, not just for next season, but for many seasons to come. I was a Colt's fan before Peyton's arrival and will remain one for life. I have enjoyed Manning's success, wish him much success for the remainder of his career, and hope that he remains healthy enough to make everyone think Irsay was crazy for letting him go. My loyalty will remain with the Colts either way, and I will give our new QB the same skepticism I gave Peyton until he PROVED HIMSELF. I will DIE a COLTS FAN, and it is good that WE will now lose the BANDWAGON CREW until our new coaching staff and QB earn their pay!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Well said. I'm in the same boat. Sad the business end set up this scenario, but I'm a lifer and even if it means letting Manning go, I pull for whatever brings the Colts back to prominence the fastest. Even if it's this painful decision. It sure doesn't look like it now, but Irsay is making the best decision from a number of unsavory options. I hope all the "I'm only a Colts fan because of Peyton" folk make good on their promise to stop buying tickets. Now maybe I can go to more games.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Viet.Vet

    The type of surgery Manning had he should be wise to retire while he is on top rather not listening to common sense judgement. He should recall that Brett Farve tried that same dance, failing to realize each year the players get younger and more physical , no matter all the hype, with three surgery in the same general area,all it takes is the right legal or iillegal hit on him and not only would he be out for the season, he could end up in a wheel chair inaddition the physical problem he will already have as he get older,I just hope common sense prevail and he not be like a junkie who continues to chase that high like the first high he/her receive the first time they tried drugs.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. woodofpine

    Eli retires with more Siper Bowl rings than Peyton. Who would of thought? The future is unwritten, but its likely. Peyton's been larger than life to his fans. I'm not one, but he's a first run Hall of Famer no matter who preps the ballot.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rob

    Not news...been expecting this for quite some time. Manning should show some class (and sense) and retire. I understand the Love of the game (ie Brett Favre) but I don't think the risk of spending the rest of your life in a wheel chair is worth it. ESPN is his best bet, he can stay around the game he loves, and make mucho dinero. Got to retire sometime...now is it Peyton. I'm not a fan of Manning, but know when to hang up the pads, dude. It's not worth the risk. Retire with your pride and health, and go into the hall as a Colt. Forget trying to prop up some marginal club for a couple years (if that.)

    March 7, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    HEY NFL this is a problem. A guy like Peyton should be able to stay with a team. There must be a way for a great player to play for just one team through out their career. I have seen it in other teams as well. It can't be just the money. Peyton I am sure has enough money. When Indy lets him go, he won't get the 28 million bonus, it that what this is really about?

    I am an Eagles fan, but this is a tragedy for Indy and the NFL.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Fancy

    Please come home and coach the Vols. Great players and coaches would fight to play for/ with you.....and I would keep my season tickets!!,

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • I can't believe is not butter

      Manning is way over rated.....he sucks

      March 7, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Dirty Joe

      TO: I can't believe it's not a brain

      Your comment proves how little you know about football. That's not a big deal in itself until you go leaving comments on an article about football.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Cass

    Sounds like he's going to be the LeBron James of Indianapolis.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Dirty Joe

      That's a very ignorant comment proving how little you know about sports. LeBron James was a free agent who selfishly stuck it to his home town (he grew up in Akron) by embarassing them on an ultra-hyped and Nationally televised "Decision."

      Peyton is beloved by Colts fans, is still under contract, isn't from Indiana, and it's the Colts that are releasing him. It's the team making the decision to get rid of Peyton so they can save a bunch of money owed to him (approx $28 million).

      Comparing the two is criminally ignorant.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • JP of Arlington

      No way is Peyton Manning ever going to be the LeBron James of Indianapolis. LeBron James is hated in Cleveland. Peyton Manning is loved in Indianapolis and alwayd will be. I think Jim Irsay will be the hated one for letting Peyton go to another team.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • I can't believe is not butter

      I agree,his a white version of lebron.....

      March 7, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • coder

      Manning's mom is "doing" another colts player – as in the case with LeBron

      LeBron left out of embarrassment of his mom doing other players on his team – Not because his team didnt want to fork up the money they promised....

      March 7, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
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