Peyton Manning officially announced his retirement on Monday at a tearful press conference where he said 18 years in the NFL is "a good number" on which to end his career.
Manning, who will turn 40 later in March, played 17 seasons in the NFL and retires with a lengthy list of records, including the most passing touchdowns (539), most passing yards (5,477) and most AP MVP awards (5). News of his impending retirement surfaced on Sunday morning and many of the NFL's heavy hitters, including Roger Goodell, John Elway and Jim Irsay, released statements wishing Manning well.
"I revere football, I love the game," Manning said. "So you don't have to wonder if I'll miss it. Absolutely, absolutely I will ... Football fans everywhere need to know how much they've meant to me over the years. There was no one who could out-prepare me and because of that, I leave with no regrets ... After 18 years, it's time. God bless all of you. And God bless football."
He capped the speech with one last "Omaha."
Exactly four years before his retirement press conference, Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts, the team that took him with the first selection in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played 13 seasons for the team before a neck injury kept him out all of 2011. However, if the Colts knew that he would reach to the level of play that he did in his first three seasons with the Denver Broncos, it's entirely possible the team would've kept the future Hall of Famer in Indianapolis.
Upon arriving in Denver, Manning racked up 14,863 yards and 131 touchdowns in three years before a rough season in 2015 that included a foot injury. It was his last year with the Broncos, though, that Manning was able to get the second Super Bowl ring of his career and ride off into the sunset on top.
"Grateful is the word that comes to my mind when thinking of the Denver Broncos," Manning said. "To all of my Denver teammates, thank you for what you've done for this old quarterback. And of course, my gratitude to the Broncos fans everywhere."
If Manning didn't elect to retire, there may not have been much of a market for his services, but now that his NFL career is through, there is expected to be plenty of options on the table. Several television networks are reportedly interested in adding Manning and there are reports that a "bidding war" could happen for the quarterback to take a front office job like Elway.
"I haven't ruled anything out," Manning said of his future after football. "I have made no decisions. I'm going to go on vacation again after this and play a little golf pretty soon with my two brothers ... I'm going to enjoy this and think about some of those things another time."
Manning will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
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