In a press conference today at Denver Broncos headquarters, quarterback Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the National Football League after 18 seasons. Like everything that Manning did, his retirement speech was perfect and one of the best you'll hear.
During his speech, Manning thanked as many people as he could, and he got choked up often throughout the speech, especially when talking about his family - his wife Ashley and his two kids. But he was equally as emotional at another part: when talking about his time with the Indianapolis Colts.
"Thank you to the Indianapolis Colts organization, and all the fans across the country - you can't fathom how much I enjoyed my 14 years there, or the warmth that my family feels for you," Manning said. "I'd be wrong not to mention Jim Irsay, Bill Polian, some great coaches, support staff, and a host of wonderful Colts teammates, many of whom will be lifelong friends.
"When I was drafted by the Colts, Indianapolis was a basketball and a car racing town. But it didn't take long for the Colts to convert the city and state of Indiana into football evangelists. We ended my rookie season 3-13, and in the process I set the NFL rookie record for interceptions - a record that I still hold today. Every year, I pull for a rookie quarterback to break that record. Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Cam Newton. I still kid Eli that he would have broken it if he had started all 16 games.
"In the beginning of my time in Indy, the team's struggles were agonizing," Manning continued. "My grandfather would call me weekly to ask if his favorite announcers, John Madden and Pat Summerall, would be broadcasting our game. 'Papaw,' I'd say, 'we're only 2-8 right now. We're playing the 3-7 Bengals. Madden and Summerall don't broadcast those kinds of games.' Fast forward to my second year where we had gotten things going a little bit. We were playing the Dallas Cowboys, including Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Deion Sanders. I called Papaw: 'Guess what? Madden and Summerall are broadcasting the game.' He said, 'I can't believe it!' He was elated and he was very proud, and we beat the Cowboys that week and we let the world know that the Colts had arrived.
"Make no mistake about it: we were coming. And we went on to do some phenomenal things, like winning at least 12 games seven years in a row, and of course winning Super Bowl 41. And I was truly honored and proud to be a part of it."
Manning's speech was beautifully executed and was very emotional, as Manning reflected on his career and the time spent in both Indianapolis and Denver. He spent quite a while talking about his time with the Colts and was arguably as emotional talking about that as anything, as he truly did accomplish a ton in Indianapolis and will forever be remembered for it.
He also talked about the little things that he will miss, such as "a steak dinner at St. Elmo's in Indianapolis after a win." He added that, "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 also said that, "I'll miss putting in a play with Tom Moore and Adam Gase that ends in a touchdown on Sunday."
Though Monday's ceremony was held at the Broncos headquarters and though Manning was preceded in speaking by Broncos president Joe Ellis, general manager John Elway, and head coach Gary Kubiak, it was clear that the Colts held a significant presence in the press conference as Peyton Manning emotionally reflected on his incredible 14 years spent in Indianapolis.