Peyton Manning elevated quarterbacking into an art form during 17 NFL seasons, adding his unique style of running the no-huddle and setting almost every important record in one of the most remarkable careers in the history of professional sports.
That career has come to an end. Manning is set to announce his retirement Monday, a month after helping the Broncos win the Super Bowl, giving him the rare distinction of walking away a champion.
Manning will be only the second quarterback to retire immediately after winning a ring. He joins Broncos general manager John Elway, who brought him to Denver in 2012 and built a champion there for the first time since Elway won back-to-back in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Manning, who will turn 40 March 24, is the only quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl with two different teams and the only one to get there four times with different coaches.
“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team,” Elway said after the Broncos’ announcement Sunday that Manning will retire. The team is expected to hold a news conference Monday at its practice facility outside Denver.
“Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more — not only for the football team but in the community,’’ Elway said. “There’s no question that his work ethic is what made him into one of the great quarterbacks of all time.”
Manning, the first overall pick in the 1998 draft, quickly transformed the Colts from one of the NFL’s worst franchises into one of the best. He earned his first Super Bowl victory after the 2006 season. The Colts released him after he sat out the 2011 season because of neck problems that required four surgeries.
Manning was courted by several teams, but Elway convinced him that Denver was the best landing spot, and he responded by leading the Broncos to four straight divisional championships. He produced a transcendent season in 2013, throwing a record 55 touchdown passes for the first team to score more than 600 points (606). He also threw for a record 5,477 yards that year.
“Few have left their marks on a sport as Peyton Manning has,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said Sunday in a statement.
“Simply put, he revolutionized NFL football. Peyton energized it as had no one before him, he made it more fun for our fans, and made the game better. Peyton has been a tremendous ambassador for the game and the epitome of someone who gives back to the community. He is the most recognizable face in the history of the NFL, and perhaps its most popular.”
Manning’s play tailed off during the second half of the 2014 season, when he had a thigh injury. He returned in 2015 after several weeks of reflection but had by far his worst season, with only nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. A foot injury knocked him out of the lineup after nine games, but he returned in the final regular-season game, coming off the bench to beat the Chargers and secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Manning’s final season also was clouded by controversy after a report in December alleged that he acquired HGH, which is banned by the NFL, while with the Colts in 2011. The report, by Al Jazeera, implied that Manning used the substance in his recovery from neck problems, although the HGH allegedly was delivered to his wife, Ashley. Manning strenuously denied the report, but the NFL has said it has begun an inquiry. It is uncertain whether that investigation will continue now that Manning is retiring.
Manning was overheard telling Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the AFC Championship Game that this could be his “last rodeo.” Then Manning helped the Broncos beat the Panthers, 24-10, in Super Bowl 50, a game dominated by Denver’s defense and one in which Manning had no touchdown passes and one interception.
Manning said afterward that he wanted to take his time before deciding whether to retire. That time has come.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady praised his longtime rival.
“Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career,” Brady wrote on his Facebook page. “You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It’s been an honor.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Manning’s career “extraordinary” and said it was “driven by his talent, an incredible work ethic, and an unwavering desire to be the best and ended so perfectly for him with a Super Bowl victory. Peyton’s competitive fire and love of the game made him a legendary player who thrilled fans for a generation.”
One and Only
Peyton Manning’s record-setting regular-season numbers:
Pro Bowl selections 14
TD passes 539
Passing yards 71,940
Fourth-quarter comebacks 45
*Tied with Brett Favre