Mar 7, 2016; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during his retirement announcement press conference at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Manning Says ‘Goodbye’ in Tearful Press Conference

Today an icon walked away from professional football. In front of a room filled with family, friends, former teammates and coaches, Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the NFL after 18 seasons. A visibly emotional Manning took to the podium and began recounting his first season in the league. Manning’s first season was as unimpressive as they come. The Colts went 3-13 in his rookie season in 1998. In the same year, Manning set the single season record for interceptions thrown among rookie quarterbacks with 28. Manning then recounted a talk he had with the late Colt great, Johnny Unitas, who told him “Peyton, you stay at it. I’m pulling for you.” And Manning did just that. After 18 NFL seasons Manning has permanently etched his name in the minds of NFL fans among the greatest quarterbacks to ever take the field.

While he still roots for first-year quarterbacks to replace him as the rookie leader in interceptions, he’s garnered a few more records which far outshine his 1998 performance. In 2013 Manning lead the most impressive aerial attack in NFL history, dropping 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns in a single season, both NFL records. Yet Manning’s 2013 campaign (which ended in a 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks), was only a microcosm of Manning’s illustrious career. Manning not only holds the record for most career passing yards in NFL history (71,940), but passing touchdowns (539), and most wins by an NFL Quarterback.

NFL players past and present took to Twitter to congratulate “The Sheriff”, as he’s known in the football world, on a job well-done.

Manning completed his storybook career with a win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. His second Super Bowl ring proved elusive, as Manning loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, and the Seahawks in XLVIII.

Manning himself has come under scrutiny in recent months. In December 2015 Al Jazeera released a documentary titled “The Dark Side” which alleges an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis shipped Human Growth Hormone to his wife. He was also cited in a Title IX lawsuit alleging the University of Tennessee created a “hostile work environment” by virtue of policies that allowed assaults by student athletes. The lawsuit alleges Manning placed his naked genitals on the face of a female trainer, Dr. Jamie Naughright. Manning denies all allegations.

Given the NFL’s five-year waiting period, Manning will be eligible for the NFL Hall of Fame in the year 2021.

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