Five-time NFL MVP and former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning officially announced his retirement at a news conference on Monday.
Emotions ran high Monday for the two-time Super Bowl Champion, who said he’s retiring after 18 seasons in the NFL.
“There’s just something about 18 years,” Manning said. “Eighteen is a good number, and today I retire from pro football.”
Manning thanked a number of people, including the University of Tennessee and its fans.
“It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made,” Manning said of his decision to forego the 1997 NFL Draft and return to UT for his senior year. “I cherished my time in Knoxville, especially my senior year. I want Vol fans everywhere to know the unique role you’ve played in my life.”
Manning played at the University of Tennessee from 1994-1997.
"I'm retiring today as a University of Tennessee graduate who played for the Colts and the Broncos,” Manning said. "I'm very lucky."
Manning said everything he put into the sport was for reverence of the game.
“I’m totally convinced that the end of my football career is just the beginning of something I haven’t even discovered yet,” Manning said.
Manning briefly addressed how he was named in the allegations of a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Tennessee during the news conference.
“I think it is sad that some people don’t understand the truth and the facts. I did not do what has been alleged, and I’m not interested in re-litigating something that happened when I was 19 years old,” Manning said of the Title IX lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee.
The lawsuit against the university said that a trainer named Jamie Whited reported that Manning had "sat on her face" while she was assessing the extent of an injury.
Whited in 1997 settled a claim with the university for $300,000. Manning said what Whited saw was him mooning another athlete.
The University of Tennessee wants to strike the reference to a 20-year-old training room episode involving quarterback Manning from the lawsuit, arguing it's "immaterial, impertinent and scandalous."
Manning opened the news conference Monday speaking on how he met NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas as a rookie in 1998 after the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Baltimore Ravens. It was the Colts’ first return to Baltimore since the team moved away in 1984.
Manning said he hoped the late Unitas, who played for the Baltimore Colts from 1956-1972, was proud of him.
During Monday’s news conference, Manning also thanked the fans, his family, teammates he’s had, players he’s played against, the people of New Orleans and Louisiana, and a number of people in the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos organizations.
“I played 18 years, but this was the only second offseason I could start in a good mood after winning a world championship,” Manning said.
Previous: Timeline of Peyton Manning’s career
Manning said he would go on vacation again after Monday’s news conference, and he wasn’t sure what he was going to do next with his life.
“The Sheriff” also made light of some of the tougher times during his career.
“I ended my rookie season 3-13, and in the process I set the NFL rookie record for interceptions, a record that I still hold today,” Manning said. “Every year, I pull for a rookie to break that record.”
Manning said he still jokes with his brother Eli that he would’ve broken it, had Eli Manning started all 16 games as a rookie.
Denver Broncos executive president of football operations and general manager John Elway helped introduce Manning during Monday’s news conference. Elway also played and won a Super Bowl as a quarterback for the Broncos.
“To me the thing that’s the most amazing is the way he went about it, and the work ethic,” Elway said. “It was a treat for an ex-quarterback to be able to watch Peyton Manning prepare, and work and play the game.”
Elway said Manning revolutionized the game with his pre-snap reads at the line of scrimmage.
“Peyton Manning utilized every asset that God gave him to be the best football player that he could be,” Elway said. “That’s the thing to me is what sets him apart from anybody else because he got every ounce of ability that he has, and that’s what makes him so great.”
Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said Monday that Manning gave the team a chance to win a Super Bowl when they signed him to a five-year deal worth $96 million in March 2012.
Ellis thanked Manning for his contributions to the Denver Broncos organization.
“What we didn’t know was how far his impact would stretch beyond the playing field,” Ellis said.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak also spoke before Manning on Monday.
Kubiak said the Broncos would tape Manning’s workouts each day as rehabbed his torn plantar fascia injury in his left foot during the 2015-2016 season.
Kubiak only spent one season coaching Manning, which ended in a 24-10 win against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
“It was only nine months for me, but I’ll remember it for a lifetime,” Kubiak said.
Manning ended Monday's news conference with his legendary pre-snap call, by yelling out "Omaha!"