Peyton Manning leaving the colts
Four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning is expected to announce today that he will be leaving the Indianapolis Colts, the only team he has played for in his 14-year career.
Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay are scheduled to appear at a noon ET press conference in Indianapolis to make the announcement.
The two flew into Indy from South Florida together on Tuesday night, according to media reports.
“We’ll see ya’ll tomorrow. We’re gonna talk tomorrow,” Irsay told reporters after arriving in Indianapolis, ESPN.com reported.
“We’re going to do this the right way. We’ll talk to you guys tomorrow,” Manning said, according to CNN affiliate WISH-TV. Wednesday morning, Irsay tweeted, “It was a long, emotional flight … now the sun is trying to rise.” The Colts will release Manning rather than pay him a $28 million bonus he is due on Thursday if he remains on the Indianapolis roster.
Manning was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the Colts. He became their starting quarterback that year and led them to 11 playoff berths, two conference championships and one Super Bowl victory.
But Manning sustained a neck injury during the 2010 season and was forced to sit out the entire 2011 season after having surgery to fuse vertebrae in his neck.
The Colts plummeted to a 2-14 record without Manning, which gained them the first pick in April’s NFL draft. They are expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck or Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III with that pick. Both are considered franchise quarterbacks, like Manning was when the Colts took him No. 1 in 1998.
Although he’s expected to leave the only pro team he has played for, Manning’s career is far from done. His doctors have cleared him to play and he’s been working out at Duke University. He’ll become a free agent and is expected to be sought after by several teams. Among the favorites to land the 35-year-old QB are the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans. ESPN reports that Manning is expected to work out for select teams once he narrows his choices.
Colts fans were sad to see their city’s shining star on his way elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t be nearly as big a fan without him,” CNN affiliate WTHR-TV quoted fan Aly Wiggs as saying.
“I’m disgusted. Manning is who Indianapolis is. He’s our identity and what he’s done for the community. He’s more than a football player,” Bob Nellish told WTHR.
Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz says fans will be angry with Irsay for letting the pride of the city and the state leave town.
“It’s impossible to overstate the civic impact Manning had on this franchise, on this city and on this region. He did it not only as an athlete but as a philanthropist. He was, and still is, the most important athlete ever to grace the playing fields of Indianapolis,” Kravitz wrote Wednesday morning.
In 1999, Manning and his wife established the PeyBack Foundation in Indianapolis to help disadvantaged youth. It has donated more than $4.3 million since its founding to youth causes in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana, according to the foundation’s website.
In 2007, in honor of Manning’s work, St. Vincent Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis was renamed Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. The city’s Children’s Museum, Boys and Girls Clubs, and high school football players have all been helped by Manning, according to a WTHR report.
“There will be lots of tears today at that news conference,” Kravitz writes. “Without No. 18, the Colts might not still be in Indianapolis. Certainly, there’s no Lucas Oil Stadium, and there’s no Indianapolis Super Bowl. His impact is incalculable.
“The statue goes up immediately,” Kravitz says.
In the cities that covet Manning, it was websites and billboards that were going up.
In Miami, there was manningtomiami.com, complete with Manning depicted in a Dolphins uniform, a link to a petition to be presented to Dolphins owners and a shop to buy Manning in Miami T-shirts.
“When’s the last time we the fans have had an ‘impact’ quarterback? What about the most cerebral quarterback of all time?” the Miami site asks. “Get behind this movement and let your vote be your voice and make a difference!”
In Phoenix, the peyton2az website showed a picture of a billboard erected in the city by a local mattress retailer. “Peyton Manning, please sleep here,” it pleaded.
“The city will be his forever if he could bring a Super Bowl to the Valley of the Sun,” a commenter wrote on the site