Written by Andrew Aziz of Everything-Colts.com (Will be Published in Montreal Gazette)
In the very emotional farewell press conference to Peyton Manning, both people expressed their gratitutde with tears running down their faces. It marked the end of a fabulous era.
The man that build Lucas Oil Stadium and put people in their seats finally said his final goodbye. This was a press conference not only watched by every Colts fan, but by all NFL fans. It marked the end of one of the greatest city-player relationships in sports.
jim Irsay was the first to speak, and it didn't take long for his emotions to take over as he stopped a few times to compose himself. He was grateful to have a friend and player like Peyton saying:
"The good times we've shared together and the laughs we've shared together -- growing up together in the organization. When a 37-year-old owner met a 22-year-old player coming out of Tennessee, the dreams we had and experienced are beyond my imagination."
Then Manning went up to the podium. Then, we saw something we've never seen before: the 4 time MVP recipient cry. He had troubles holding his emotions in check. Even though the tough decision effected both sides dearly, it was obvious how much respect they had for each other. Peyton then went on to express his gratitude to Jim, the organization and finally (and most importantly to him) the fans. He said:
"I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts," Manning said in a prepared statement. "For 14 wonderful years, the only professional football I've known is Colts football. Our team won a lot of games here, and I played with so many great teammates here, and I've been part of a great organization. I've been a Colt for almost my entire adult life -- but 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."
After a couple of pauses, he composed himself and looked poised, like he always is.
According to many sources, Jim Irsay tried a lot to keep Peyton on the team, but it seemed Peyton Manning believed that he would hold back the franchise. Andrew Luck, the number 1 ranked college prospect and probably the Colts future franchise quarterback was expected to come in and take a lot of first team reps. Although Peyton would be starting (most likely), it would see the future hall of famer diminish in the background. Something a lot of elite quarterbacks would not want.
Then after a little more talk about himself, Peyton then expressed his gratitudeand thanks towards the fans. He said that he would:
"Leave the Colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude to Jim, the organization, my teammates, and especially the fans. I haven't thought yet about where I'll play, but I have thought a lot about where I've been. I've been blessed to play here, and I've been truly blessed to be in the NFL."
He ended his statement by saying one last line for the fans of the Colts:
"Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback."
And that was it, the official end of arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.
Manning is officially a free agent and can now choose from a wide selections of teams to choose from.