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. Cmore

    Come to Arizona Peyton...you will be treated like a king.

    March 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guesteppi

      Or go the the Jets and be treated like Rodney King.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom

    Hey Lebron, take note on what class looks like. You and Peyton are on two ends of the spectrum. He loves his fans and appreciates his team owner. He didn't announce his departure on a narcissistic tv show and with a ridiculous text MSG to his team owner.

    March 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. What in the ham sammich

    Peyton is the smartest QB i have seen play the game in a very long time. Where his health may be a question for some, his Football smarts and skill is unmatched in the NFL today. He will land on his feet, probably naming his salary. Best of luck to you Peyton.

    March 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. colt45

    No longer reading CNN

    March 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JS

    Only 1 thing to say really about this.. Irsay is a complete moron. He could've traded and received Blackmon and probably 2 or 3 other picks THIS year and next..and been right back in the Super Bowl WITH Manning..2-3 more times in the next 5 years. Now he rebuilds with the unknown...and the Colts will suck for a long time. Plus, I'm sure he'll be tweeting about it. What an idiot this guy is!

    March 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      Yeah, he's the moron. Everyone in the sports world knows this is the right move but we'll just take your idiot opinion over those who are paid to have one. Thank god you aren't running the team, they'd probably be lucky to win the 2 games they won this year.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      By the way, I look forward to your revisionist history when three years from now Manning's out of the league and Luck is one of the 5 best qbs in the NFL. I'm sure you'll still be spouting off this nonsense and not saying, d'oh, I was wrong. Good job Irsey (or more to the point good job Ryan Grigson who's the one who actually made this call but I'm guessing you're head is stuck too far up you know what to realize that).

      March 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bruce Hammond

    If you can trade Joe Montana, you can trade anyone...

    March 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Grumpyfin

    Mr. Manning, if by some chance you read this, walk away from the huddle with most of your health in tact, and strongly consider coaching at Tennessee!!!!!!!! You are a walking legend already. Please don't turn into a mirror of Brett Favre..............and when/if you get some time, take a look at the current status of Eric Campbell and William Perry!

    March 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grumpyfin

      er, EARL Campbell..........mental flatulence of epic proportions!

      March 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Semper fi

    There are pure Colts Fans.......There are pure Manning Fans. I am a pure Peyton Manning fan. Did not watch one Colt game last year. Watched every one the year before. I will follow the man and HIS team. Same way I was a Joe Montana Fan. Find your team Peyton......we will follow your there.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bernardo

    Being a Green Bay packer fan (and former Brett Favre fan), I find it refreshing when a quarterback leaving a team is done with professionalism and good will. I wish both Payton and the Colts the best, at least when they're not playing my team. 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Barry G.

    What a great athlete and a good man. And that's a rare combination.

    I wish he'd come to Philadelphia.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Clint04 Wa.

    With all due respect Peyton let it go, your health is worth more then any trophy or any amount of money. With your skills and experience, there are plenty of other areas of opportunities for you, coaching, very possible even a head coaching position.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. indigo

    I'm not a football fan but have great respect for Peyton and his brother Eli. Peyton did a great job as guest host on SNL a couple of years back - he could choose an acting career, maybe.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. EastCoastMike

    Manning and his new team will remain the top story through the 2012 football season.....sorry Tebow.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ct

      Somebody's jealous!

      March 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      I agree Mike! Peyton has at least 2-3 more years left in him. Alls I know now...I am no longer a fan especially after the mysteries exit of Harrison. That was the best combo since Montanna & Rice.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Volsocal

    Manning is a class act. Look forward to seeing him in another jersey next year. The Colts will nedd a lot more than Luck to turn things around.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald

      If they have Luck plus some chance good fortune, I bet they could do OK.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Duane

    Manning is a great player, hope he comes back

    March 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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