Colts say goodbye, Irsay says Manning has been “incredible blessing”


The Colts formally announced on Wednesday that Peyton Manning is leaving the franchise, with owner Jim Irsay getting choked up as he gave a heartfelt speech about what Manning has done for his team.

“It’s an incredible blessing,” Irsay said. “As difficult as this day is, it’s made difficult because of the greatness and the things Peyton has done for our city, for our state, for our franchise. There will be no other Peyton Manning.”

Although there’s been some talk of animosity between Irsay and Manning in recent weeks, Irsay became emotional as he talked about his affection for Manning personally, noting that the two of them had grown into their roles as successful owner and superstar player 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,” Irsay said. “I can’t thank him enough.”

Ultimately, however, Irsay had to make a tough decision for the future of the franchise, and the reality is that Irsay didn’t think he could afford an aging quarterback with a bad neck and a huge contract any longer.

“We both wanted to be together,” Irsay said. “It’s been very difficult — and just tearing at our hearts — to try to look at the best solution. Peyton has been completely unselfish in terms of looking at the franchise, where we were at at this point. . . . It’s never been about money, it’s never been about those types of things.”

Irsay also confirmed that the Colts will retire Manning’s number.

“The 18 jersey,” Irsay said, “will never be worn again.”

Except by the legions of fans who will still love Manning, even as they say goodbye.

84 responses to “Colts say goodbye, Irsay says Manning has been “incredible blessing”

  1. If Irsay wants to go big, he should also retire Harrison’s number along side’s Manning’s. We’ll never see a passing combo like those two ever again.

  2. Leslie Frazier,
    You better be blowing up Peyton’s phone.

    This is a move the Vikings always make… go get em Zygi. It almost paid off when you got Favre, go get Peyton and let’s do this.

    SKOL 18 LETS GO!!!


  3. Irsay is a douche, Manning is a tool

    “It was tearing at our hearts”… LOL.

    Theres no returning from that.

  4. who should I feel sorry for? ridiculous, both are worth $100 million dollars. It’s not reality it’s fooball.

  5. U think they could afford peyton, luck, all their other draft picks plus free agency?? Not to mention possibility of reggie wayne?! Of course theyre gunna let him go

  6. “The Colts didn’t retire Marvin Harrison’s number, why retire Manning’s?”
    Who do you think made Harrison who he was? Reggie Wayne was a great receiver too. Austin Collie scored a lot of TD’s.. What’s the common denominator??? Peyton Manning

  7. Irsay your an incredible a$$h0le. The best thing that happened to your franchise and you let him walk. I feel bad for Andrew Luck, thanks to the owner this guy is going to have a leash as long as my finger with those fans. You didnt have to pay him the 28 mil but that should of been handled differently as well. Stay Classy Colts.

  8. But it WAS all about the money why they cut manning. Manning just refused the salary cut cuz he didn’t want to be training his replacement and have a definitive cap on the remaining years with the team.

  9. if manning wanted to stay he could of taken the vet mininum and help luck grow in to the role by learning from him. but instead the guy doesn’t budge on his 28mil and acts like he wanted to stay. Yeah he wanted to stay if he got 28 million for not knowing if he ever plays another down again.

  10. Do we know for sure that it was Manning who refused to renegotiate the date that his roster bonus would come due? While it makes sense for Manning to have forced Irsay’s hand in order to get a jump on free agency, Irsay could have also used it as a legitimate reason to move on.

  11. The greatest QB to step onto an NFL field is a free agent.

    Imagine what Manning could have done in his career if he’d been on a team with an O-Line like the Patriots have.

    What could he have done with a defense like the Ravens or Jets?

    No one will ever know. Instead, we got to watch him carry a franchise on his back while the defense allowed 5 ypc to anyone and everyone, and never came out of cover two.

    We saw him passing behind a swiss cheese O-Line that thankfully didn’t get him killed; we never got to see him with a deep threat receiver like Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald.

    Damn it, Peyton. You are the most consistent and brilliant quarterback ever. So many amazing years wasted with the Colts.

  12. “We both wanted to be together”…what a bold-faced,unadulterated LIE….if they both wanted to be, they could be and would be…..what a ridiculous thing to say…for both sides. Both sides were too greedy to work out a deal……..that is the bottom line!

  13. It had to be done and we knew it was coming, but it still trips me out! Stay in the AFC Peyton and seeing as I’m not entirely convinced you will play again or be the same, thanks for all of the great memories. The comeback against the Bucs on MNF when you dropped 28 on them in the 4th was one I will never forget, amongst many.

  14. No way this should have happened. The so-called circumstances that led to Manning’s release were created by Manning, Polian, and Irsay. If they wanted him back and if Manning wanted to be back, both sides could have tried to make that happen. Obviously, both sides didn’t want to make it happen.

  15. And just like THAT, an era in NFL and Colts history is over.

    Agreed that it’s hard to pay a QB with a questionable injury that kind of money, but it’s still so hard to believe this really just happened.

    Andrew Luck had better be GOOD. Kid is going to feel immense pressure, following a legend like Peyton Manning.

    As a Pats fan who enjoyed the Manning-Brady rivalry, I hope Manning goes on to have a couple more high-level seasons. We don’t need another Joe Montana story.

  16. I’m a Steeler fan, and listening to Manning speak and get choked up, was actually hard to hear. Good luck to Peyton wherever he goes… Unless it’s Baltimore, Cincy or Cleveland…

  17. raiderlyfe510 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:22 PM

    He would have been a Raider if the old man was still alive.

    Interesting, I had no idea Manning could run a 4.3 40, cuz old Al Davis would never sign anyone slow…

    As far as “its never been about the money”, I actually believe that, since Manning is going to resign with the Colts for $9 million per season…wait, what? He isnt going to give the Colts a discount? He raped them out of the $26 mil last year, and he isnt even going to have the decency to give Irsay a reach around this year and take a smaller money deal… LMFAO, nope, definitely not about the money (eye roll)

  18. Shame on the Colts for sending him out this way. I’m a Jaguars fan so I’ve seen my share of awkward QB dismissals, but this is shameful.

    Peyton should have been allowed to stay until he was d2mn well ready to leave, and then he should have been given part ownership of the team and an office position. He is (I mean was) the Colts organization.

    This was handled terribly.

  19. As a Tide fan, didn’t expect to be shedding tears of empathy for a Vols hero. What a sad day for Indy. Love this game … but it can break your heart. Best of luck to the Colts as they move forward. And I hope Peyton lands in a good place where he can come back and finish out his career on top.

  20. pacodawg says: Mar 7, 2012 12:25 PM

    Fans get used to the following:

    Manning to Massaqoui touchdown!


    Hahahaha! “Massaquoi” and “touchdown” in the same sentence.


  21. Here’s a random question: Any chance a team takes a chance and claims Peyton on waivers? What is preventing that from happening besides his huge bonus? And, given the level of interest around the league already, isn’t he in-line for a pretty substantial signing bonus if he is signed after clearing waivers?

  22. biggerballz says: Mar 7, 2012 12:24 PM

    if manning wanted to stay he could of taken the vet mininum and help luck grow in to the role by learning from him. but instead the guy doesn’t budge on his 28mil and acts like he wanted to stay. Yeah he wanted to stay if he got 28 million for not knowing if he ever plays another down again.

    Who in their right mind would take less money to not only train their replacement but play on a team they know will not stand a chance of reaching another Lombardi within the remainder of their career? You want me to walk away from ANY chance to win another ring to work with your unproven QB of the future? Fine, but you will compensate me for such. I give up the remainder of my career, you’re giving up some Cha $$$ Ching

  23. What a brilliant press conference. After this I can’t imagine any Colts fan having any animosity towards Peyton, and I can’t imagine any die-hard Manning fan having any animosity towards the Colts!

    This is how the Packers should’ve done this in 2008. Irsay was up front and direct with his QB on what they wanted to do, and they publicly acknowledged each other and wished each other well.

  24. Hrm… he played college football in Tennessee… is that where he is from? If so, I would guess the Titans would be a no brainer… 🙂

    Just curious…

  25. Never mind… I just read he was from New Orleans… so I change my mind and now think he will go there… close to family… 🙂

    Just more rambling…

  26. I guess I’d choked up to if I just kicked a QB who helped make my team revel ant the past 13 years for a QB based only on hype. Take about setting a team back. The Colts are not like teams whose name and market is strong. Peyton made that team relevant.

  27. @phillyphever Marvin was placed in the Ring of Honor during last season. The Colts have a lot of players to honor over the next 10 years (Peyton, Reggie, Saturday, Freeney) they just need to retire first.

  28. Reggie Wayne & Manning to the Vikings with a healthy Adrian it would be an awsome offense!

    Just tweek the Defense with a few free agents (KC cornerback) and draft the left gaurd from USC or top Runningback from Alabama( if AD is not healthy). with their first round pick.

    Then go defense with picks 2 to 4 all cornerbacks & DE /DT

    rebuilt in a year…

  29. Whoooeeee…that was a rough one. Irsay did what’s best for the Colts but it doesn’t mean that it’s painless. I’d have a hard time releasing a class guy like that from my organization, much less a 4-time MVP and SB champ.

    I wonder if things would have been different without that rookie wage scale.

  30. The Colts paid Manning 25 million to sit so they could suck for Luck. Some say the Colts were very fortunate to go from Manning to drafting Luck, but this move was calculated.

  31. @Irsay—It’s never been about money, it’s never been about those types of things.”
    ==================================Then you brought up the Cap you idiot. This was Peyton’s time not yours you bonehead. Way too much Irsay today. Next up will be the twitter posts at 3 am talking about tears….

    Good luck Peyton.

  32. If I’m Andrew Luck, I demand the number 18, or I refuse to sign. Set the tone for who’ll be calling the shots for the next decade or so. Can you imagine Irsay saying no to the baby Jesus?

  33. The side of sports we all hate – money and reality. Manning is, will always be a Colt, just like Montana and Rice are 49ers. Hard to believe he is already 36 and moving on … oh well.

  34. it’s always about money….

    Isray found out about the severity of Peyton’s neck after signing one of the worst contracts for an owner in NFL history…. Peyton played that for money, not out of love for the Colts….

    Isray then looked at the $28m due now and then repeatedly inferred “we are going to suck for luck” …. and he sure didn’t infer that out of great love for Peyton… he did it because Luck is a LOT cheaper…..

    negotiation time came around, Peyton didn’t want to budge on his bucks, and Isray didn’t want to pay so much more for Peyton than for Luck

    no matter what kind of emotion is handy for the press conference of the week….. in the NFL…. it is ALWAYS money….

    they can hang the emotion of the moment

  35. anthonybjones- sorry, Manning is nowhere near the greatest. You can’t be the greatest when you aren’t even the greatest in the era you played OR the greatest in your franchises history. He is the best Indy Colt ever…but that’s not saying much!..also,he never had a D like the Ravens because all the money went to HIM and to the offense……guess what?…it didn’t work!

  36. I thought it was very classy of Irsay to look after Peyton in this divorce. If you listen to him closely he realizes that the Colts are rebuilding and it will take a few years to accomplish that. It actually sounded like he wants Peyton to go to a contender and finish his career on a high note. I am sure that they could have worked out a more cap friendly contract, but at what cost. You are not going to pay him less than Luck, and they both know that Luck has to start from Day 1.

  37. I loved Peyton since college. This is why I never blamed LeBron James for getting out the way he did. Owners will use an athlete up and let them go but when the athlete does it they cry fowl.

    Good Luck Peyton.

  38. Blame the team for sucking so bad. They win one more game, he’s still a Colt. His teammates let him down. No wonder Manning was so jacked when they were winning late in the season.

  39. What a horrible way to end the Manning era…
    A lousy press conference. Yes, they will be retiring the #18, but big deal, Irsay couldn’t of done more? For Gods sake, the man brought winning back to Indianapolis, a SB title and Millions of dollars into JI’s pocket for all of the seats sold to watch him light up the scoreboard. Geez, Tebow got a statue, Jim Kelly got a set of box seats named after him, couldn’t you at least name a street after Manning, how about a parking lot named Peyton’s Parking?

    Jim Irsay is a joke.

  40. It sucks, but it’s a business decision. At least they had the class to retire his #18. That doesn’t happen very often to players that are still playing in the league.

  41. Manning needs to retire, he has nothing to prove, certainly he has plenty of money. To end up in a wheel chair to play another year or two….surely Manning is smarter then that.

  42. golonger says:
    Mar 7, 2012 1:22 PM
    anthonybjones- sorry, Manning is nowhere near the greatest. You can’t be the greatest when you aren’t even the greatest in the era you played OR the greatest in your franchises history. He is the best Indy Colt ever…but that’s not saying much!..also,he never had a D like the Ravens because all the money went to HIM and to the offense……guess what?…it didn’t work!

    Peyton still better than Brady, who wouldn’t have a single ring without the Pats defenses of the early 2000s.

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