Manning, Colts parting ways after 14 seasons

3/7/2012 9:56:46 AM

At a joint press conference Wednesday afternoon, Colts owner Jim Irsay revealed what had been heavily speculated for months: the team is parting ways with Peyton Manning.

"Peyton Manning has meant so much to the organization, the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and to Colts fans worldwide," Irsay said. "We salute Peyton for all he has accomplished on and off the field, and we wish him health and happiness as he moves forward."

The decision to release the future Hall of Fame quarterback was made before he was due a $28 million roster bonus on Thursday. Manning had four years remaining on the $90 million contract he signed last July when the NFL lockout ended.

"It's a difficult day of shared pain," Irsay said. "The No. 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field."

The four-time MVP spent his last season with the Colts as a spectator, missing every game because of a lingering neck injury that required several surgeries.

Without Manning, the Colts struggled mightily, finishing with a 2-14 record and earning the first pick in April's draft that is expected to be used to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor is also an option.

Fourteen years ago, the Colts drafted Manning No. 1 overall, then watched him start every game for 13 years. He led Indianapolis to 11 playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title after the 2006 season.

"I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts," said Manning, who turns 36 later this month. "I guess in life and in sports, we all know that nothing lasts forever. Times change, circumstances change and that's the reality of playing in the NFL."

Now a free agent, Manning wants to keep playing but said he hasn't thought about for which team.

The 11-time Pro Bowler passed for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns in 208 consecutive starts for the Colts.