Colts Hold Press Conference to Announce Peyton Manning’s Release

At noon today, Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning held a press conference to announce the end of the Manning Era.  Here are Irsay and Manning’s statements, transcribed by Phil Wilson of the Indy Star.  Read the whole transcript here.

Irsay

“Good afternoon. Well, we’re here to announce the conclusion of Peyton’s playing career with the Colts. We’re here very much as well to honor all the incredible memories and incredible things that he’s done for the franchise, for the city, for the state. In the history of sports through the last century, there’s been in team sports a handful of Hall of Fame great players that have done incredible things for franchises. I know that this parallels the handful of people through time that has meant so much to the franchise. I know, in my heart and in the hearts of fans, it’s unparalleled for the Colts. It’s a difficult day here of shared pain between Peyton, myself, the fans, everyone. I think in that vein as well, the 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field.

“This process has been a long and difficult process. I know Peyton and I have had numerous conversations over the months. 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 try to realize what the situation was for the franchise, what it was for Peyton. In the end, those circumstances were too difficult to overcome, circumstances that dictated to us, to the franchise, that really were unavoidable. It’s something where as we’re going forward, being a rebuilding team with salary cap problems and Peyton is on the mend to try to resume his career, we both wanted to be together.

“It’s been very difficult, just tearing at our hearts to try to look at the situation and find the best solution. I think Peyton has been completely unselfish in terms of looking at what the franchise, where it was at and where we’re at this point, and I tried to put myself in Peyton’s situation as well. In the end, before we ever got into any specifics, it’s never been about money and never been about those type of things, It’s really to be blessed here today to have gone through the experiences we have together, as an owner and having Peyton as a friend and a player, all the things we’ve been through, it’s an incredible blessing.

“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. I mean, that’s something that’s in a special place in a special time. Over the last decade and a half, we’ve been so blessed to have him. The good times we’ve had together, the laughs we’ve shared together (pause, emotion), you know growing up together in the organization, when a 37-year-old owner meets a 22-year-old player coming out of Tennessee, and the dreams that we had, and the experience is just beyond my imagination. As difficult as this is, I know our journey together hasn’t ended, it’s really just begun. I look down the road and see the many decades, going forward, that we’ll share together and how (pause, emotion) he’s always part of the Horseshoe. It’s something where I can’t thank him enough. When I look back and reflect on everything that’s happened … whenever we went on the road, the circus was coming into town. Peyton was the ring leader. The memories that we have and the great people we’ve been blessed to be around, I’ll always treasure.

“Just want to turn it over to Peyton now to say a few more words.”

(Hug, pats) …

Manning

“Thank you, Jim.

“I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts. For 14 wonderful years, the only professional football I’ve known is Colts football. Our team won a lot of games here, I’ve played with so many great teammates here and I’ve been part of a great organization here, an organization and an owner who I respect and continue to respect.

“I’ve been a Colt for almost all my adult life. But I guess in life and in sports, we all know that nothing lasts forever. (Pause, voice cracks …) Times change, circumstances change, and that’s the reality of playing in the NFL.

“Jim and I have spoken extensively about where we are today and our conversations have led both of us to recognize that our circumstances make it best to take the next step. This has not been easy for Jim and it certainly has not been easy for me. Jim, along with Bill Polian, drafted me 14 years ago. Jim and I have always been close. We made a lot of great memories together. He’s always been good to me. And Jim, I will forever be grateful.

“This town and this team mean so much to me. (Long pause, emotion.) It truly has been an honor to play in Indianapolis. (Voice cracks) I do love it here. (Voice cracking throughout) I love the fans and I will always enjoy having played for such a great team. I will leave the Colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude, to Jim, the organization, my teammates, the media and especially the fans.

“I haven’t thought yet about where I’ll play, but I have thought a lot about where I’ve been. And I’ve truly been blessed. (Voice cracking.) I’ve been blessed to play here. I’ve been blessed to be in the NFL.

“And 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. (Voice cracking, then trails off.) Thank you.”

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About Josh Wilson
Follow Josh on twitter @jwilsonWL, on Facebook at the Operation: Freedom page, or you can reach him by email at operation.freedom@yahoo.com.

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