DENVER, Colo. -- "There's just something about 18 years," Peyton Manning said, fighting back his emotions. "Eighteen is a good number. Today, I've retired from pro football."
After a long, illustrious career in the National Football League, quarterback Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the game in the Denver Broncos' facility Monday afternoon.
In his speech, Manning told a story of when he was quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts and visited the Baltimore Ravens. After the game, former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas met him, shook his hand and said "Stay at it."
"I have stayed at it," Manning said, his voice breaking. "I've stayed at it for 18 years."
After two Super Bowl wins and countless broken records, the soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback's time in the NFL is over.
"I’m retiring as a football player who played for the University of Tennessee, the Colts and the Broncos," he said.
As for what's next? Peyton isn't even sure.
"I'm totally convinced that the end of my football career is just the beginning of something I haven't even discovered yet."
When asked directly about his future, Manning said he hasn't ruled anything out.
"I haven't made any decisions," he said.
Manning listed many things he'll miss about the game, with no shortage related to Indianapolis.
"I'll miss figuring out blitzes with Jeff Saturday, Reggie [Wayne] sitting on top of the bench next to me and perfecting a fake handoff to Edgerrin James." he said. "I'll even miss the Patriot fans in Foxboro. They should miss me. They sure got a lot of wins out of me."
Manning thanked his hometown of New Orleans, the University of Tennessee and the Indianapolis Colts organization and fans.
"You can't fathom how much I enjoyed my 14 years [in Indianapolis], or the warmth my family feels for you," Manning said. "I'd be wrong not to mention [Colts Owner] Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, some great coaches, support staff and a host of wonderful Colts teammates, many of whom will be lifelong friends."
When Manning first joined the Colts, Indianapolis was a "basketball and car racing town," as he put it.
"But it didn't take long for the Colts to convert the city and state of Indiana into football evangelists," he said.
Indiana is more a football state because of Manning than in recent memory. He won 150 games as a Colt.
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Many speculated Manning could take the same path John Elway took and go into the front office of an NFL team. he could also go into coaching, broadcasting or simply just stay out of the game.
"There's not a guy in the NFL who can walk away and say 'I've done everything,'" Elway said. "Peyton can say that."
Elway praised his work ethic and professionalism.
"To me, the thing that’s most amazing is the way he went about it," he said.
As a former quarterback, Elway knows the impact Manning had on the NFL.
"Peyton Manning revolutionized the game," Elway said.
Manning ended his career with a win, something few NFL players are able to do. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, for Manning’s 200th career win, including playoffs.
He was drafted by the Colts in 1998, and played there for 14 years. He finishes his career No. 1 or No. 2 in every major passing category, including passing yards, touchdowns and completions.
"I have the utmost respect for what you did," said Gary Kubiak, the Broncos' head coach.
Before leaving the podium, Manning recited 2 Timothy 4:7: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
"God bless all of you, and God bless football," he said.
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