INDIANAPOLIS — Colts owner Jim Irsay announced Friday that the team will retire Peyton Manning’s No. 18 and build a statue of the record-setting quarterback outside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Less than two weeks after announcing his retirement in Denver, Manning returned to his first NFL home one more time to thank his supporters. A smattering of Manning fans — some dressed in the Colts’ blue-and-white, other dressed in Denver’s orange and blue — stood outside the front gate of the team’s complex
Irsay made the announcement as a slide show of Manning’s moments in Indy played on the podium in front of him and on two screens behind him.
The ceremony took place in the same room that an emotional Irsay announced the Colts would release their star quarterback to clear the path for Manning’s successor, Andrew Luck.
Manning won four of his record five MVP Awards with Indianapolis, led the Colts to two Super Bowls and delivered the first world championship in city history following the 2006 season. He added his second Super Bowl title last month as the Broncos beat Carolina.
Manning’s personality, success and off-the-field contributions are widely credited with helping to general public support for building Lucas Oil Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl in February 2012.
But that’s only part of Manning’s legacy in Indy.
Through his Paybacks Foundation, Manning hosted high school football games at the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium, provided Thanksgiving meals for low-income families and held Christmas parties for children in need. He teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and reached out to help American service members and ordinary citizens who enduring trying times.
Manning’s greatest reward may have come seven months after he brought Indianapolis its first major championship since the early 1970s when a local children’s hospital was renamed Peyton Manning’s Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.
After singing with the Broncos in 2012, Manning said Indy would always hold a special place in his heart and that he would come back to the city often.
Each spring since 2012, Manning has hosted an A-list fundraiser that included auctioning off prized possessions, things like an autograph from Mother Teresa, a clipping from a contract signed by Marilyn Monroe, an autographed photo of former American presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon and baseballs signed by Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams.
But on Friday, Manning wanted one more chance to say goodbye to the team and the fans who first welcomed him into the league.