The announcement confirmed the Broncos’ statement on Sunday that Manning would end his 18-year career in the NFL.
It also means Manning will finish his career with a Super Bowl victory in his final game. He leaves the game with two Super Bowl titles, four Super Bowl appearances and the NFL record for passing yards.
“There’s something about 18 years,” said Manning, whose voiced cracked with emotion throughout his speech. “It’s a good number. Today I retire ... I revere football, I love the game. So you don’t need to wonder if I’ll miss it. Absolutely I will.”
He leaves the game as one of its most popular and accomplished players with 71,940 passing yards and 251 touchdowns with the Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. However, the last several months have been marked by controversy. An Al Jazeera report accused him of using HGH and more details have emerged in the past few weeks about an allegation that he exposed himself to a female trainer while a student at the University of Tennessee.
“It is sad that some people don’t understand the truth and facts. I did not do what is alleged,” Manning said on Monday. “I’m not interested in re-litigating something that happened when I was 19 … Like Forrest Gump said, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.’”
Though most in the NFL felt this would be Manning’s last season, especially after plantar fasciitis in his foot forced him to miss six games at the end of the regular season, he appeared unsure of that decision in recent days. He delayed announcing his retirement even as the Broncos gave clear signals they planned to release him this week rather than guarantee his $19m salary for another season.
The Denver general manager, John Elway, who also led the team to Super Bowl success as quarterback paid his own tribute. “It was a treat as an ex-quarterback to see Peyton Manning prepare and play … he did revolutionize the game. Peyton Manning utilized every asset God gave him.”
Gary Kubiak coached Manning for just nine months but it was enough for the pair to win Super Bowl 50 together. “We all respected you as a person,” said Kubiak. “Everything ended the right way for the Broncos and what a ride it was.”
Manning is known for his sense of humor and noted he still holds the record for interceptions in a rookie season. “Every year I pull for a rookie to break that record,” he said with a smile.
The other great quarterback of Manning’s generation, Tom Brady, paid tribute to his old rival on Facebook on Sunday. “Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career,” he wrote. “You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It’s been an honor.”
“I’ll miss that handshake with Tom Brady,” said Manning on Monday. “I’ll even miss the Patriots fans.”
Manning finished his statement with a reference to the Bible. “I have fought the good fight. I finished my football race and after 18 years it’s time. God bless all of you and God bless football.”
This article was written by Les Carpenter, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th March 2016 18.29 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010