The SportingJournal

Colts bid farewell to Peyton Manning

In an emotional press conference yesterday, four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts.

Peyton Manning, when playing for Indianapolis Credit: Abqtrucker Flickr

However, it wasn’t just any player getting cut, as happens every day in professional sports. Manning’s work, both on and off the field, made him the face, and the hero, of the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana, as well as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.

As a quarterback from the University of Tenessee, Manning was selected by the Colts with the #1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.

Son of former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning both Peyton and his brother, New York Giants’ signal caller and reigning Super Bowl champion Eli Manning, were born with football in their DNA.

Indianapolis had not been an overly successful football team before Peyton. Football wasn’t even close to the sport of choice in Indianapolis as the whole state of Indiana was basketball and motor racing crazy, the latter due to the world-famous Indianapolis 500 staged in the city every May.

But as they say in bad action movies: ‘One man could change all that’.

The Colts won division titles in ’99, 2003-2007, 2009 and 2010, won the American Football Conference Championship twice in 2005 and 2009 and went to two Super Bowls for one win over the Chicago Bears in 2006 and a loss to the New Orleans Saints in 2009. The successes brought the city a new stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl in February.

It had been an incredibly successful run for Manning and his Colts, but the 2011-12 season was a different story.

Going into the preseason there was questions about a neck injury Manning had been dealing with and had subsequently had surgery on. The initial response around the league was that he might be out for the first week of the season, and maybe a few weeks more.

However, Manning had a nother setback with the injury and it became abundantly clear that the nerves the 35 year-old Manning had damaged were not healing. On September 8th, he had spinal fusion surgery. A decision that, while being the best option to fix the injury, saw him miss the entire season and has cast huge shadows over his playing future.

Having signed a five-year, $90 million contract before the start of the season, the Colts had a massive, franchise altering decision to make. On March the 8th 2012, if Manning was still on their roster they would owe him $28 million, whether he was healthy enough to play the next season or not.

The Colts also hold the first pick in April’s 2012 NFL draft, which they are set to use on Stanford QB Andrew Luck, the most highly rated prospect out of college since, ironically, Peyton Manning himself.

The weight of a franchise, a city, and a state had been on Peyton Manning’s shoulders for fourteen years, yet it was his neck that eventually let him down, and forced the Colts to let him go.

The relationship between player and team ended on good terms. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay started the press conference by saying “We’re here to announce the conclusion of Peyton’s playing career with the Colts, we’re here very much to honour the incredible memories and incredible things he’s done for the franchise, the city and the state”. Irsay also said Manning’s #18 will never be worn by another Colts player, as a tribute to the all-time great.

“Well, I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts. For fourteen wonderful years, the only professional football I’ve known has been Colts football.” Manning said.

“I haven’t thought yet about where I’ll play, but I have thought a lot about where I’ve been.” He added, before ending with “ As I go, I go with just a few words left to say. A few words I want to address to Colts fans everywhere. Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

No matter where Manning ends up and whether his future playing endeavours are successful or not, he will always be remembered as just that. The #18 in blue and white, the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.

Joel Peterson

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  • Chrisindarwin

    MASSIVE. Peyton will have a mission at another franchise TBA. The NFL is a bloody league list wise.
    Only Aussie to keep a spot at this stage is big Sav Rocca at the Chiefs.
    Thanks sorting journal.



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