LOS ANGELES: Peyton Manning has hung up the number 18 jersey he wore in leading the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl titles and both clubs remembered him fondly on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
The iconic NFL quarterback, who turns 40 on March 24, told the Broncos he will announce his retirement in a Monday news conference.
Manning will retire after guiding Denver to victory last month in Super Bowl 50 against Carolina and after bringing his first NFL club, the Colts, a Super Bowl title in 2007.
“There will be no other Peyton Manning,” said Colts owner Jim Irsay, who wound up releasing Manning four years ago so Indianapolis could sign his young replacement, Andrew Luck.
Manning went to the Broncos and sparked Denver into the Super Bowl twice in four seasons, losing to Seattle two years ago before going out a champion after an 18-year career.
“It was a blessing to coach Peyton Manning,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Sunday. “Nobody worked harder at the game and nobody prepared harder than Peyton.
“There was nothing like his work habits. Each and every week, he did everything he could to get ready to play not only against the defense but even against the coordinator.
“He’s a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame person, and I wish him all the best in the future. Being with him this season, going through what we went through and accomplishing what we accomplished — that was special.
“He and I battled together and along the way we talked about dreaming that it could end the way it ended. And I’ll be damned, it did.”
Beyond my imagination
Irsay personally handed in the card to select Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft. The Colts went on to win eight division titles under his leadership.
“When a 37-year old owner met a 22-year old player coming out of Tennessee, the dreams we had and the experiences are beyond my imagination,” Irsay said.
“He literally transforms your organization. On the field, he’s all about winning and winning the right way. And off the field, he cares so much and takes so much time just to help the community.”
A Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis bears Manning’s name.
“One of the greats of all time,” Irsay said. “I just run out of superlatives to heap on him because, honestly, he is everything that you look for in a football player and an individual.”
Manning’s list of records is remarkable: Most career passing yards in NFL history (71,940), most career passing touchdowns in league history (539), most passing yards in a single season (5,477), most touchdowns in a single season (55), tied for the most regular season wins by a quarterback with Brett Favre (186) and most starts at any position to open an NFL career (208).
Many of Manning’s Denver Broncos’ teammates remembered Manning on Twitter on Sunday.
“Peyton was everything we thought he was and even more for our team and community. What an AMAZING career. we’re thankful he was a Bronco!!” former Broncos quarterback and current club executive John Elway tweeted.
“Thank you P thank you 4 all the memories I love you man believe me I have a friend 4 life. A 9 year old fan to a teammate G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time),” tweeted Denver receiver C.J. Anderson.
“Honored to have played and got a ring with the GOAT!!” receiver Jordan Norwood said.
“So it’s official I caught p money’s last pass wow what a blessing shoutout to the sheriff on a great career!” said receiver Bennie Fowler.
“Peyton Manning is the rare kind of player where no matter how long you played with him, whether it was a month, a year, 10 years, a week, you’re always going to say, ‘I played with Peyton Manning,’” Broncos tackle Ryan Harris said. “He’s forever.”
The Broncos have offered backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, 25, a three-year contract worth more than $45 million but the part-time fill-in for Manning in his final season could become a free agent on Wednesday. He went 5-2 as a starter after a left foot injury forced Manning to the bench.
“The Denver Broncos are so proud to have called Peyton Manning our quarterback for the last four years,” Broncos chief executive Joe Ellis said.
“On the field, Peyton’s competitiveness, intensity and leadership helped us to one of the most successful periods in our history. Off the field, Peyton’s kindness and generosity, especially toward those in need, made a real difference on a very personal level.”