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. Robert

    I hope the Colts return to what they was before Peyton Manning arrived. On the other hand hope Peyton goes to the Miami Dolphins and wins four super bowls in a row. 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. snowdogg

    He's no spring chicken and damaged goods at that. Any team which signs him IS taking a risk... despite his stellar credentials.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • JP of Arlington

      You may be right but, I think Peyton Manning operating at 75% is better that most all the QBs in the NFL.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • The Dave

      He may be damaged but remember, so was Drew Brees when the Chargers let him go to the Saints.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • S

      Hes still 1000 times better than someone like Rex Grossman. The Skins could use him. I hope he goes to the Cards though. They fair well with old guy QBs

      March 7, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Talkic Social

    Let's not forget his time on Saturday Night Live. The United Way skit (teaching kids about teamwork and football) is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

    Perhaps one of the CFL teams will offer him a starting job and ownership.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Fancy

      Maybe, but with money not an issue, sure would be great if he would come home to Knoxville.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • lvmsleader

      Wow.....there is an idea! Can you imagine Manning with a wider field and an extra receiver? I really think you have a good idea there. The CFL has always wanted to capture some of the US markets. That would be a great way to do it.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bates

    I'd love too see the Cards get him. I like Kolb, and I think he will be good, he is no Kurt Warner... Hell he isn't even a Jake Plummer yet. Let Peyton come in, dominate for 2-3 seasons and show Kolb how to do it. I know Kolb has 5 years experience already, but getting taught by one of the best is worth sitting out a few seasons in my opinion.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nancy

    Peyton is one of the classiest NFL player, he is dearly going to be missed. Good luck to you. I would like to see him retired as a Colt. He has a bright future as an analyst, coach or mentor. Please take care of your health first.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. I can't believe is not butter

    The texans quater back is way better than manning

    March 7, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Feste-Plague

    HEY PEYTON, COME TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN !! We in Arizona need you !

    March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Timmy2Timer

      We in Kansas City, MO need you too! good D, good RB, good receivers/line......

      March 7, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. SD

    Pats fan here. I think Peyton is a class act and wish him the best. He is not the bad guy in this situation (like LeBron aka "The King" of the sofa). Colts will be releasing him, he wants to stay and has done so much for the city. It is a business decision, and Irsay and other NFL owners are in it for the $ and for championships not for the fans. I feel badly for Colts fans, but with a #1 pick, they will bounce back.

    Also, he was funny on SNL. See the public service announcement skit on You Tube. Too funny.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Samlv

    Better to see him with the Dolphins. At least they have a legacy.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. This_blank

    Luck & griffon franchise QBs? LOL! If this is like the 1998 draft then luck is your manning & griffon is your ryan leaf! MANNING GO TO AZ! YOU CAN EASILY WIN THAT SOFT DIVISION!

    March 7, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. This_blank

    @cass lebron & manning? Really? You are comparing polar opposites young lady

    March 7, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. That Guy

    Read an opinion piece back in like September that said Peyton would be playing for the Redskins next season... weird how that might end up being true.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Same song, second verse

    Irsay alienated fans when the Colts were in Baltimore so it's no surprise that he's up to it yet again.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      That was his dad, who's now dead. Different song.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • DocCutty

      Good lord. More whining from Baltimore. Look. Maryland and Baltimore were incapable of supporting the Colts on late 20th century terms. The Colts left only when threatened by state seizure by emminent domain, which the legislature passed and the governor signed just as the last trucks were escaping. That's pretty close to Communism. Then Baltimore stole another city's team, without any remorse or giving a damn about fans in Cleveland. Then you won a Super Bowl with THAT stolen team. Crybabies.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. parnell in canada

    He was a great player and is a great representative for pro sports. He may still have seom greatness left but I agree taking him is a big risk. Favre was a bit older (certainly not wiser) and did well in Minnesota but the long season and cold weather wore him out. Football is very tough on the body and mind. Manning has been away for a year. he's going to demand a lot of money that will reduce the ability to get other quality players on a team. All pretty risky.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Iverson

      Not even close. A Rod sat under Favre for years. Luck could do it too. Not only that, if the Colts had won 5 games last season, we wouldn't even be having this discussion NOR would Irsay be looking to release Manning.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Notarichboy

    I am a big football and Peyton fan but is this really the 'top" story in the U.S.? Read some of the other headlines at the bottom of the page.. "Special Forces soldier, daughters die in burning home" or "Indiana mom loses legs saving kids from tornado" Seems whomever chose to place a story about Peyton leaving the Colts as the top story in the U.S. has their priorities screwed up!

    March 7, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Maybe people don't want to read about death or dismemberment.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • j

      Neither of the stories you listed, though they are tragic, are worthy of national attention. They're local matters. Dozens or hundreds dying in a massive wildfire is national news.

      Peyton Manning is a national icon. This isn't a national top story, but it is at least a (frivolous) national concern.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      some of us read more than one news story a day...

      March 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
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