The Denver Broncos announced on March 6, 2016, that their quarterback and NFL legend will officially retire from the league. Manning will formally announce his decision at a press conference in Denver, Co., that will begin at 1 p.m. EST, on March 7. Manning’s career changed the game of professional football and will leave fans to remember his 18 years as an NFL legacy.
Manning had big shoes to fill as his father, Archie Manning, was a prominent football icon in both college football and the NFL. Archie attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and was the starting quarterback for their football team. Throughout his college football career, he threw 4,753 yards and completed 31 touchdowns. Archie was named, Quarterback of the Quarter Century (1950-75) in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Then, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1971, in the first round and second overall. In his 13-year-career, he also played for the Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings. He became a Hall of Famer, for college football, in 1989.
Knowing this, Manning wanted to make a name for himself, on his own. During his senior year of high school, he led his football team to a record of 34-5 and he threw over 7,000 yards. He was viewed as the nation’s top football recruit. Manning chose not to attend his father’s alma mater, instead, he attended the University of Tennessee in 1994. He was the quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers football team, and like his father, he set records. He is Tennessee’s all-time leading passer as he set the record with 11,201 passing yards. At the time, he also broke the SEC record for career wins when he won 39 out of 45 games.
Manning’s 18 years as an NFL legacy began in 1998 when he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round. He was the first overall draft pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. The franchise struggled and needed an answer to their roster.
Although Manning struggled to adjust to the professional league, his rookie year did consist of breaking NFL rookie records. He made 326 completions, passed 3,739 yards, and had 26 touchdowns. Despite these records, Manning threw 28 interceptions, which was, at the time, the league’s worst. The Colts finished the season with a record of 3-13.
Manning broke away from this apparent adjustment period and Colts fans were glad to see the transformation the next season. In 1999, he threw 4,135 yards and led the Colts to finish the season with a reversed record of 13-3, a significant difference from the year before. The Colts faced the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs and fought for a spot in the Super Bowl. Despite losing, Colts fans remained hopeful for the upcoming seasons. The quarterback led the Colts to win Super XLI against the Chicago Bears on Feb. 4, 2007. The final score was 29-17, and he was named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Throughout his first 13 years of being in the NFL, Manning avoided injury. He was the Colts starting quarterback for 227 consecutive games. This streak was broken on Sept. 8, 2011, when he had surgery to repair a damaged nerve in his neck, that ultimately weakened his throwing arm. This surgery forced Manning to sit out the rest of the season.
In 2012, Manning signed with the Denver Broncos and led the team to win an AFC West title that year. It was with the Broncos that Manning was able to set career records. In 2014, he broke the all-time record for career touchdowns (508), which belonged to the former Green Bay Packers quarterback, Brett Farve. Manning crushed that record with 539 touchdowns. In 2015, he broke another record, set by Farve, in total career passing yards. The record was 71,838, and Manning reset that record to 71,940 passing yards.
Manning led the Broncos to two Super Bowl appearances during his final five years in the NFL. The Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIV. The final score of the game was 43-8, with a team performance that he, the franchise, and the fans may have eliminated from their memory. On Feb. 7, 2016, Manning and the Broncos had one more chance to be Super Bowl champions. To Manning, this was his last chance. The Broncos won against the Carolina Panthers with a score of 24-10, which was Manning’s 200th career win.
Manning will retire after 18 years of building his NFL legacy. He will retire as a Super Bowl champion, but also with much more. The quarterback appeared in four Super Bowls, (XLI, XLIV, XLVIII and Super Bowl 50). He was a two-time, NFL Offensive Player of the Year and a five-time MVP. Manning was awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2005, which is among the most notable awards in the NFL. To date, he is the only quarterback to win two Super Bowls as a player for two different teams. Despite his statistics, he affected the lives of his coaches, teammates, and became an idol to fans nationwide. Some of those fans, who grew up idolizing Manning, have grown up to be players in the NFL themselves. Knowing this, Manning, who is also known as the NFL’s “Sheriff,” should be proud that he can finally “ride off into the sunset.”
Opinion by Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Biography: Peyton Manning
ESPN: Peyton Manning to announce retirement Monday
USA Today: Peyton Manning to retire after 18 NFL seasons, five MVPs, two title and numerous records
Image Courtesy of Karen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License