It didn't take long for the Indianapolis Colts and owner Jim Irsay to commemorate Peyton Manning's legacy with the team he entered the league with and spent 14 years playing for before joining the Denver Broncos.
On Friday, Irsay and the Colts announced that they would be retiring Peyton's No. 18 jersey along with erecting Manning's own statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium, just days after the iconic quarterback announced his retirement from the game."It'll be a destination spot for all of our fans, a destination for cans of Budweiser," Irsay said laughing during Friday's press conference. "It's not too often you build statues of people. We're really excited about putting this iconic statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium where it'll stand many, many years. So deserving."
The Colts selected Peyton Manning with the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft and the University of Tennessee star was the focal point in turning the team into an NFL powerhouse and along with converting a state that is known for its basketball and racing roots, into a football town.While in Indy, Peyton grew into one of the most cerebral and successful quarterbacks in league history. Manning was named to five league MVPs and threw for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns while starting for the Indianapolis Colts. He also led the team to two Super Bowls, winning once, during his 11 playoff appearances with the team.
"It was my honor and privilege to play for this organization for 14 years, I'll always be a Colt.""It was basketball, basketball, basketball, car racing, car racing, car racing [when I got here]," Manning added. "That's no longer the case. Now this is a football town." It was the first time Manning made an appearance at the Colt's facility since the team released him after 14 seasons back on March 7, 2012. Some notable attendees were current coach Chuck Pagano, general manager Ryan Grigson and former Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. Manning's longtime coach, Tony Dungee, was not in attendance at the press conference that saw Manning succumbing to his emotions as he described some of his most memorable memories of being with the team, including his first touchdown and a surprise visit from former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight.
In 2012, with the Colts drafting No. 1 pick Andrew Luck and Manning coming off a series of neck surgeries, Manning and the Colts agreed to a divorce that saw him eventually landing with the Denver Broncos and leading them to two Super Bowls, while the Colts went all in with the young Stanford standout Andrew Luck as quarterback, who has led the team to two playoff appearances since entering the league.
Manning announced his retirement after 18 years in the league last week after a rocky season that ultimately ended in story book fashion, with his Denver Broncos winning the big game behind Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and their stout defense.
He'll leave the league as one of the most celebrated and accomplished signal callers to ever play the game and the NFL leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, along with being the only quarterback in league history to win 200 games. He also has two Super Bowl victories to his name along with one Super Bowl MVP and five regular season MVPs.
[AP Photo/Adam Nadel, File]