When Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts came to the stunning (but right) conclusion that it was time to move on from the greatest player in their franchise's history, quarterback Peyton Manning, back in March of 2012, it was a time filled with a lot of sadness in Colts Nation. But with that said, the divorce between the two sides was handled as well and with as much class as could have possibly been expected. From Irsay talking up Manning's legacy to Peyton's tear-filled "I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback line," it went well, all things considered.
Contrast that with a situation that had happened just a few years earlier with another future Hall of Fame quarterback and his longtime franchise, Brett Favre and the Packers. That divorce was a very ugly one filled with mistakes from both sides, as Favre retired (because the Packers wanted an early decision), then wanted to come back. The Packers traded him to the Jets, but after a year he went to the Packers' division rival, the Vikings, and promptly defeated his former team. The situation was a mess, and it has just recently been resolved with Favre's number being retired soon.
If you ask Brett Favre, the Colts' release of Manning went smoothly because the franchise saw the mistakes made by the Packers and Favre and learned from them. Favre appeared in a radio interview with ESPN Wisconsin today, as NFL.com's Connor Orr noted, and mentioned that he could have done things differently back in 2008, as well as his take on Manning's release from the Colts.
"In my opinion, I think the Indianapolis-Peyton separation was handled correctly simply because they had seen the Packers and Favre separation not go so well," Favre said in the interview, per Orr. "They were smart in how they handled it, and that's both sides. That's a great example of learning from others' mistakes."
It's an interesting thought, and in reality, Favre may be right. His divorce from the Packers was the biggest story of the 2008 NFL offseason, and even though the Colts still had no plans to move on from Manning (he won two more MVP awards and led the team to a Super Bowl after that moment before he was released), it would make sense for owner Jim Irsay to see what was happening in Green Bay and make a mental note of it, in the chance that he would have to go through a similar situation with his Hall of Fame quarterback. Nobody at the time could have thought that it would happen, but in the end it did (thanks to an injury to Manning). Irsay moved on from Manning in as classy of a way as possible, and it has worked out very well for both sides because of it. Colts fans still love Manning but have a new franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, while Manning has enjoyed a lot of success with the Denver Broncos.