LOS ANGELES: Peyton Manning confirmed his retirement from the National Football League, the Denver Broncos said on Sunday (Monday in Manila), bringing the curtain down on a glittering 18-year career just weeks after becoming the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
The 39-year-old had vowed to take his time over a decision about his future after helping the Broncos to an upset victory over the Carolina Panthers on February 8.
However, Manning, who has passed for more yards than any other quarterback in history, has informed the Broncos he is to retire and will formally announce the decision at a press conference on Monday.
In a statement on the Broncos website confirming the move, Denver general manager John Elway paid tribute to the two-time Super Bowl champion’s contribution since arriving in Colorado after leaving the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.
“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team,” Elway said.
“Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more, not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career,” Elway added.
Confirmation of Manning’s retirement decision draws a line under one of the greatest NFL careers in history.
Manning retires as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yardage with 71,940 and in passing touchdowns with 539 and his 186 career wins match Brett Favre as the most by any quarterback in league history.
The veteran signal-caller had battled back from the brink of a career-threatening injury in 2011, when neck surgeries forced him to miss the entire season and left him unable to throw properly.
He was cut by the Indianapolis Colts, where he had spent the first 14 years of his career, before eventually arriving in Denver the following season with few pundits predicting the spectacular renaissance that was to follow.
Manning broke nearly every Broncos single-season passing record in his first season to earn NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors and finished as runner-up for season Most Valuable Player.
In 2013, Manning compiled the most prolific season by a quarterback in NFL history, leading the highest-scoring offense ever with 5,477 passing yards and 55 passing touchdowns.
Manning’s heroics led the Broncos to their first Super Bowl since the 1988 season — but his dreams of a second Vince Lombardi Trophy were crushed by a fearsome Seattle Seahawks team in the showpiece.
Manning’s chances of a second Super Bowl appeared bleak last season when he struggled with poor form and a torn plantar fascia during the early rounds of the campaign.
After a career worst performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in November — when he completed just five passes for 35 yards while throwing four interceptions — Manning was benched by coach Gary Kubiak for the first time.
A grim season took a darker turn when Manning was linked in an Al-Jazeera television report to allegations of performance enhancing drugs — claims the Broncos star has angrily dismissed as “garbage.”
However, Manning was recalled to the Broncos starting line-up for the playoffs and successfully led his team to a dramatic win over the heavily favored Panthers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara last month.
“It was a blessing to coach Peyton Manning. Nobody worked harder at the game and nobody prepared harder than Peyton,” Kubiak said.
Since that win, a guessing game over Manning’s intentions has swirled, with some even suggesting he could have decided to extend his career with the Los Angeles Rams.
The aftermath of Manning’s second Super Bowl win has also sparked renewed headlines about a 20-year-old incident involving Manning and a female athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee.
Manning is alleged to have placed his naked genitals on the trainer’s face as she examined him. Manning denied the allegations and claimed he was “mooning” a fellow athlete. The case was settled in civil court in 1997.