After leading the Denver Broncos to a win in Super Bowl 50, quarterback Peyton Manning was asked if it would be his last game. He said he needed time to think about it and discuss it with his family.
Today, after a month of considering his options, 40-year-old Manning made it official at a press conference in Denver: He’s hanging up his cleats.
"When I look back on my NFL career I'll know without a doubt that I gave everything I had to help my team walk away with a win," Manning said. "There were other players more talented, but there was no one who could outprepare me. And because of that I have no regrets."
"I revere football,” he added. “So if you wonder if I'll miss football, absolutely I will.”
Manning played 18 seasons in the NFL, 15 for the Indianapolis Colts and three with the Broncos. He won two Super Bowl titles and four AFC championships. His Super Bowl 50 victory made him the oldest quarterback to win a championship, as well as the only QB to win a title with two different teams.
He also earned a record five league MVP awards and set nearly every possible individual record:
- Most career touchdowns: 539
- Most career passing yards: 71,940
- Most career wins (including playoffs): 200
- Most game-winning drives: 56
- Most consecutive season with 25 or more touchdowns: 13
- Most seasons passing for 4,000 or more yards: 14
- Most seasons with 350 or more completions: 10
- Most games passing 300 or more yards: 93
- Most passing yards in a season: 5,477 (set in 2013)
- Single season touchdown record: 55 (set in 2013)
Another record Manning holds is one he’d like to clear from his resume: In his rookie year, he threw 28 picks to set the record for most interceptions thrown in a season.
“Every year I pull for a rookie to break that record,” Manning said at the press conference.
The news of Manning’s retirement began to spread on Sunday. And once word got out, tributes began pouring in.
“Peyton’s competitive fire and love of the game made him a legendary player who thrilled fans for a generation,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “He has served as a great representative both on the field and in his community. We are forever grateful for Peyton’s unmatched contributions to the game.”
“Grew up watching Peyton Manning play, amazing career!” Pittsburgh Steelers received Antonio Brown tweeted. “Glad I had a chance to meet him and share some moments! #respect #livinglegend”
“I am grateful to have shared the field in your LAST game but most importantly I am grateful to have mimicked a style you created to bring out the best in ME!” Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton posted on Instagram. “You have changed this game in ways you will never no (sic) and I admire the man you are on and off the field. So long SHER1FF!”
But the highest praise might have come from Manning’s longtime rival Tom Brady.
“What just happened, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, is a perfect way to end a career,” Brady told MMQB’s Peter King. “But what he’s accomplished through all these years, what makes it so admirable, is the pressure he’s had on him his whole life.”
Brady added that it was Manning who set the example for how he wanted to play quarterback.
“I realized the level of commitment you must have to be great, watching him do it,” he said. “I know the time I put in, so I knew the time he had to have put in. It’s not 9 to 5. It’s a lifelong commitment. Football is a sport, it’s an art, it’s a religion. It’s all-encompassing. He mastered it.”
Photos: Patrick Smith/Getty Images (Super Bowl), Doug Pensinger/Getty Images (press conference, ball), Ezra Shaw/Getty Images (with Brady)