The young Colt that became a Bronco has finally decided to ride off into the sunset. After 18 NFL seasons, number 18 has decided to hang up the cleats while on top of the world. A choked up Peyton Manning took the stand Monday afternoon and officially announced his decision to retire from the game. From reliving emotional moments involving coaches and family, to jokes about Adam Schefter getting his five year old daughter to get the scoop on retirement, Peyton delivered his retirement speech much like he played his career, emotional and giving his all.
Going back to 1998, the Indianapolis Colts were coming off of a 3-13 season, where staring at the number one overall pick in the 1998 draft and in need of a quarterback. The Colts front office personnel were faced with a decision as there were two high caliber quarterback prospects they could choose. There was Ryan Leaf who was considered to have the stronger arm and more upside. The other choice was Peyton Manning who was considered to be more NFL ready and mature. Ryan Leaf made it easier on the Colts as he showed he wanted nothing to do with the Colts, and they decided to select Peyton Manning first overall. This move kind of worked out for the Colts as Ryan Leaf became one of the biggest busts in NFL history while Manning became arguably the best quarterback to ever put on a helmet.
I remember having a phone conversation (remember those) with my best friend towards the end of the 1998 season. “Watch out for this Colts team they are going to be dangerous next season” I stated. “You’re crazy” he shot back, “They were 3-13 last season, they aren’t looking to finish much better this year (they actually did go 3-13 again in 1998), what makes you think they are going to be good?” My reply was simple “Peyton Manning, he is going to be a stud in this league.” “Look at how many close games the Colts played this year (9 of their 13 losses were by single digits), and this kid is just a rookie. He is going to be a star in this league.” I still consider this to be one of the greatest calls I have ever made about a player.
So what did Manning do after going 3-13 in his first year in the league? He had a 197-79 overall record (200-92 including his first season), played in 27 post-season games, won five AP NFL MVP awards, and won two Super Bowls, (XLI with the Colts and 50 with the Broncos). Oh by the way, he broke 21 NFL records along the way as well. Manning currently holds the record for most career touchdown passes (539), most passing yards in a career (71,940), most passing yards in a season (5,477), most touchdowns in a season (55), and most wins (200). He is one of two quarterbacks (Brett Favre) to beat all 32 NFL teams. Not to be forgotten, when the game is on the line, there is no one better. He holds records with 45 comeback victories and 56 game-winning drives.
With Manning making his retirement announcement today, one of the all-time greats of the game has decided to call it a career. Manning will be the guy you tell your grandkids about when they tell you how good the flavor of the moment NFL player is years from now. Even on a day all about him, he was humbled to thank everyone who he has worked with in his career. He also gave a shout out to the fans, “Fans are the core of what make this game remarkable.” “I revere football, I love the game” Peyton stated at one point during his speech, and for all you have done the sport of football and all of its fans love you. Thank you to the man who made the word “Omaha” more popular than the city itself, Peyton Manning, for allowing me to watch the best at the quarterback position for the last 18 years. You have truly revolutionized the game. The NFL is losing a great teammate, player, and person today. Next stop, Canton, Ohio.
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