Both Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay were teary-eyed at times as they officially announced Manning's release at a Wednesday news conference. The two have been together since the Colts drafted Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft and things came to an end on Wednesday as the Colts sent Manning off to free agency.
Irsay had to stop and compose himself a couple of times throughout his speech as he talked about the process that led to Wednesday's press conference.
The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field," Irsay said. "This process has been a long difficult process. I know Peyton and I have had numerous conversations over the months and we always kept trying to come back to the circumstances that were before us. We tried to put each other in each other's shoes and tried to realize what the situation was for the franchise, what it was for Peyton and in the end those circumstances were too difficult to overcome.
Those circumstances, as Irsay explained, were mostly the Colts salary cap situation. The Colts are rebuilding now, something Irsay said several times. It simply didn't make any sense for him to stay on the Colts roster but it was still a difficult day for the Colts organization and their fans.
The good times we've had together, the laughs we've shared together, growing up together in the organization when a 37 year old owner met a 22 year old player coming out of Tennessee and the dreams that we had and experienced are just beyond my imagination. As difficult as this is, I know that our journey togeher hasn't ended. It's just begun.