During an emotional press conference, Peyton Manning bid farewell to the Indianapolis Colts and the fans of the franchise. Colts owner Jim Irsay began the press conference by addressing the franchise's decision to part ways with the four-time NFL MVP, a move hastened by a March 8 deadline to pick up the option on Manning's contract and pay a hefty bonus.
"I have been a member of the Colts nearly my whole adult life," Manning reflected. "But nothing lasts forever..."
Both Manning and Irsay suggested that this outcome was forced by circumstance -- Manning's injury and the contract that both parties had agreed to -- and stated that their relationship remains strong. After Irsay spoke, Manning addressed the media as well as Colts fans in Indianapolis.
"I do love it here," Manning said, holding back tears. "I love the fans and I will always enjoy having played for such a great team."
Standing with Irsay by his side, Manning briefly addressed his future, saying, "I haven't thought about where I'll play but I have thought a lot about where I've been."
Before taking questions from the media, Manning took a moment to address the fans who have cheered him since the Colts made him the No. 1 overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft.
"Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback. Thank you."
After opening up the press conference to questions, Manning was asked if he considered retiring with the Colts.
"I don't want to retire," Manning said. "And no, I don't feel like I have anything to prove. Nobody loves their job more than I do. Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do. I still want to play. There's no other team I ever wanted to play for."