On Monday, Peyton Manning, one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks of all time, hung up his jersey after 18 seasons on Monday.
During his 18 years in the league, Manning broke and tied records that were held by Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Manning holds the record of career passing yards with 71,940 and career passing touchdowns with 539. In the 2013 season, Manning broke two NFL records: for single-season passing yards with 5,477, passing Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints, and the single-season passing touchdowns record with 55 touchdowns, passing future Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady from the New England Patriots.
In the 1998 NFL Draft, with first overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Manning, who had an outstanding career at the University of Tennessee, bringing the school its last SEC title.
In his first year with the Colts, Manning tied the record of passing touchdowns thrown by a rookie with 26, but he also set the record for most interceptions thrown by a rookie with 28. Even though he broke the rookie record for inceptions, everyone felt confident that Manning was the better pick than former-NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf in the draft. Sid Gillman’s thoughts on a young Manning were, “This is a pro quarterback,” according to SI.com.
That turned out to be true, as Leaf struggled in his NFL career and never became the superstar he was expected to be.
Manning struggled to reach the Super Bowl in his first six playoffs appearances until the 2006 season, when Manning and the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI.
Later in his career, he reached the Super Bowl three more times, the first two times coming up short against Drew Brees and the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, and then to Russell Wilson, the “Legion of Boom,” and the Seattle Seahawks in a blowout at Super Bowl XLVIII.
His second Super Bowl victory came on Feb. 7, as he stepped on the field for Super Bowl 50 and defeated the Carolina Panthers. After the game, many people questioned if this was it for the 39-year-old quarterback; Super Bowl 50 would wind up being the last time Manning would take the field.
In the past season with the Denver Broncos, Manning threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in the 2015 regular season. During the course of the season, he struggled to make throws that he would normally make; but for athletes, age and injury are curses, and they put Manning on the sideline a few games during the season.
On Monday, the 14-time Pro Bowler and five-time AP NFL MVP announced his retirement, holding back tears. It was a side of Manning the media has not seen since he left Indianapolis to join the Broncos. The public is used to a Manning that is charismatic and professional on commercials and after games, but on Monday, he was full of emotion, thanking his teammates for the years and memories that were made, sending love to his family for the support they provided throughout his career and appreciating the fans for sticking by him when he had rough games.
At the end of his retirement speech, Manning ended with a heartfelt “Omaha,” one of his signature calls at the line of scrimmage.