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. Randy

    This is a guy who was good at his job with the colts but if you watched some of the games he was afraid to get hit most of the time

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

      Good??? He's a HALL OF FAME Quarterback. Try watching some football some time.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • steven

      Yeah Manning's "good" at football, Mozart is "good" at music and Picasso was a "good" artist. Heres a pry bar to pull your head out of your butt.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill, Bloomington Il

      I agree Randy. The games he lost were the games where he was sacked and hurried. Maybe CW should watch some football.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Allie

    Well now we can get rid of ROMO and get MANNING one day soon!! At least Manning is man enough to step down when he knows whats best for his team. Thats a true Quarterback! Wish you all the best Peyton!

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

      Wish Cowboys would pick him up but you know Jerry ain't going to get rid of Romo, still thinks he can take the team to a superbowl win. Yeah right...

      March 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jennifer NYC

    After all the games he won for them, that's the thanks...they couldn't even win a game without him on the DL. I'll bet the attendance will drop without him....they will lose a lot more $$, no matter who they bring in.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • midogs2

      I agree with you about player loyalty, Jennifer. But business is business and they will need to free up that money for Griffin or Luck to build for the future.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      Actually this will save them tons. With the restructured rookie contracts that $28 million will pay for Luck for the next 3 or 4 years. Also I'm pretty sure that the thanks Peyton got was in the paychecks he received from the Colts for the past 14 years.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert A. Boohey

    Peyton is no Eli, that's for sure!

    March 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • willie james

      No, both are spoiled, pampered over priviledged jerks. But hey, atheletes in general....

      March 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hackpiper

    Pats fan here ...

    All I can say is that Peyton always brought it to our rivalry. Never liked losing to him, but had to pay him his due for leadership and never-say-die approach. Some of the duels with Brady were pretty spectacular. I hope he continues to play, though I wonder if can he keep it at the level everyone expects. Indy will be hard-pressed to fill his shoes, that's for sure.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      A nice gesture on a message board....I didnt think they were allowed. I will hope the same for Brady when his time is up. Perhaps we will get a few more chances (with Manning elsewhere of course).

      March 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jklapper

    I'm sure Mr Manning still wants to play and contribute somewhere, but with his injury it is time to hang up the cleats before he has to wear them from a wheelchair...

    March 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. shawn l

    He's past his prime. Too old. Too many injuries. He will never be what he was. The entire team was built around him, and would take years to rebuild that kind of unity and familiarity. He doesn't have years, or the arm he used to have.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      Yep. I think he still has a few years in him but if the Colts have to chose between him and Luck there is no contest whatsoever. I'll take (conservatively) 10 years of Luck over 2 of Manning.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • crookedarm

      Too many injuries? Isn't this the person that didn't miss a game in 13 years before last year?

      March 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      He's had something like 4 surgeries in the past 2 years on his NECK! And he's 36 years old. I love Manning, he's probably my favorite player, but if I were a Colts fan I would have been angry if Irsay had mortgaged our future (and missed out on the greatest QB prospect in 25 years) on Manning all things considered.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. roberto

    If neither the team nor Manning want to part ways, and money is an issue, maybe Manning could forfeit the the 28 mil or take less..

    March 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. areacode612

    I'll laugh if Luck pulls an Eli Manning and refuses to sign with the Colts.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rebecca

    So, after a 2-14 season did the Colts NOT learn what a great player and leader Manning is? Much respect to Manning, any team should be honored to have you with them.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      I am from Indiana and will miss him much, but plan to remain his fan where ever he goes.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathy

    Thank you Payton. Aside from all the great things you have accomplished as a football player, today you have provided illustrative behavior of integrity and character for younger athletes.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vince

    Peyton will go down in history as one of the top 3 best QB's of all time. It does not matter what team he goes to or how he does in the next couple years. His legacy is already ethced in stone!. I hope he goes to Arizona. Having Fitzgerald and a couple other to throw too would be nice.

    March 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim West

    Chargers got rid of Brees because of a sholder issue, how did that turn out. Indy may regret this move as well.

    March 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • bam

      peytons injury is a career ending injury brees's was not, thats how that went

      March 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonamedave

      Brees was like 25 then, Manning is 36. Nowhere near the same thing.

      March 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. me138

    We will take him here in Minnesota!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • malodin

      yes, because switching qb all the time and not letting one get any time with the team is a good idea

      March 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Truth

    As an adopted Hoosier and a Colts/Manning fan, I will definately miss him. ALthough I'm concerned about his health I would still like to see him with a decent team that can contend!

    March 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
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