After 18 long seasons, Peyton Manning is hanging up his cleats for good. On March 7, Manning addressed the nation in an emotional press conference, announcing that he is done with the game of football.
Manning said it himself that there is something special about the number 18, which is the number that he wore his entire career. Over the course of those 18 years, Manning won a Super Bowl MVP and two Super Bowls, was elected to 14 Pro Bowls, and won the regular season award 5 times. He was also the all-time career leader in the NFL for touchdown passes, passing yards, and wins.
He was nicknamed “The Sheriff” by color commentator Jon Gruden in 2009, and it was a rightfully given nickname. Manning was one of the best quarterbacks of the last 20 years. He was also the best in the clutch, holding the all-time game winning drives record at 56. He was known for being the best pre-snap, and could figure out what the defense was throwing at him before he ever snapped the ball.
All of the stats and career achievements that Manning racked up over his 18 years have been nice to see, but what will be missed the most is the character and class that he had while approaching games. In his retirement conference, he talked about all of the little things he would miss the most. Many would think it would be the game winning drives he was famous for leading, or beating Hall of Fame defensive backs on pinpoint accurate throws. Instead, Manning talked about game preparation with the coaches, watching game films with teammates, picking out balls with the ball boys, and the feeling of coming home on the plane after a great team win. Manning held back tears talking about how he would miss calling his brother after both of their games and going over how each game went.
His general manager, John Elway, talked about how Manning revolutionized the game and the quarterback position. His coach, Gary Kubiak, called him a great example of a person and a player. The way he approached the game was second to none, and now, after all of the great things that he has accomplished, and after 18 long, hard NFL seasons, Manning has officially played his last down.
“I’ve fought a good fight, I’ve finished my football race…God bless you, and God bless football,” Manning said in the last sentence of his presser.
As he turned to the crowd of journalists witnessing a legend give an incredible speech for one last time, he gave them one last “Omaha” before he stepped down. And, as Juliet Spies put it, “He stepped away from the game he so completely revolutionized.”
-Blake Saathoff ’17, Junior Sports Editor