March 7th, 2012
07:21 PM ET

What next for Peyton Manning after Colts departure?

Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. (Getty Images)
Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. (Getty Images)

"I don't want to retire." Those are the words of one of the greatest free agents that the National Football League has ever seen.

Emotions flowed on Wednesday in Indianapolis, Indiana as the Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning officially parted ways. Yes, the Colts released their best player.

The tears that were shed by Manning and team owner Jim Irsay were real as the two men faced the "business" realities of the NFL, all the while reminiscing about their 14 years together.

Can Manning still play? There's little doubt about it, despite undergoing a series of sensitive neck surgeries. Now he'll have to prove to new suitors that he can indeed throw the football with efficiency and, more importantly, prove that he's healthy.

Both Manning and Irsay said during their emotional news conference that it was never about money. But a $28 million bonus loomed large that would have triggered the last four years of a five-year, $90 million contract Manning signed in 2011.

The Colts want to rebuild and go in a different direction, which appears to be riding on "luck" - as in Andrew Luck. He's the talented Stanford University quarterback that the Colts are expected to draft next month as the top overall pick. Manning, on the other hand, is about to turn 36 years of age - and therein lies the conflict.

Manning told reporters that he moves on from Indianapolis with nothing to prove. But the competitive fire obviously burns, and we've seen how that can translate into success on the field. Remember how well Brett Favre played in Minnesota after Green Bay decided to go in a different direction with Aaron Rodgers?

Manning has won a Super Bowl. He's been a Colt almost his entire adult life. He's been a class act who even took time to speak directly to the Colts' fans and thank them for the support he's received through the years.

Manning said it: "Nothing lasts forever." Now comes the question: what's next?

While the future for Peyton Manning is uncertain, this is known. The next touchdown pass he throws, for whichever team he joins next, will be the 400th of his career.

In reality, the future looks bright for both Manning and the Colts. Just not together, which makes this parting of ways enough to shed a tear or two.

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Filed under:  U.S. Sport
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Dan

    We in noblesville indiana would like to say farewell to the greatest quaterback ever. Only Peyton can read defense's the way he does. With # 18 ur team hardly needs an offensive coach. Peyton would call the plays on the field.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  2. Deja VÛ Panama

    We are sorry to hear this but we have to undersatnd, your health is first!, Peyton you will always be the best!!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  3. dr john

    Were it not for the Irsays' there would be no moments such as this. Manning would have been the Baltimore Colts QB. This fact aside, ir it was never about money, Manning and Irsay could have reached some middle ground. Manning could have continued, Luck drafted and if Manning could not due the job, replace him.
    The excuse of "taking a different direction" is used up and old. Does it mean Indy will play baseball rather tan football.
    Sorry for Indy; they never knew what they were getting when the Irsay's came to town.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  4. Mac

    Business move? What happened to gratitude, respect, loyalty, and honor. I guess the colts ownership do not have those qualities. Let's see what karma will bring the colts franchise.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Reply
  5. Jennifer

    I think The Cardinals is next for Peyton but I will sure miss Kurt Warner

    March 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  6. alehandro

    Manning's departure may be the end of an era but he put the lid on it when he said 'nothing lasts forever". Fans hate change, and that goes for all sports in every part of the world, but sport is a business and in every business the new will eventually trump the old. Regardless of whether the incoming talent is better than the outgoing the perception is that the young have time to get better while the elder only has time to get worse! So Manning will find a "retirement" home somewhere, toss a few passes, earn a few more million and maybe have a flashback moment or two where he inspires his team to a big win or even a Superbowl.That's the dream ending to his career which no-one who loves great sport and great drama would begrudge him.But dreams don't always come true and the Colts had to cast sentiment aside and look at the practicalities in which the potential for Manning becoming an expensive liability was a risk that clearly made no business sense. Thanks for the memories and farewell was therefore the team's only option.

    March 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  7. joesmith

    follow the money..whoever has it in abundance, will get Peyton..end of story..my guess, somewhere in the lonestar state..

    March 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  8. T.Townsend

    Open this internet link: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/kerry_byrne/03/07/peyton.manning/index.html

    Look at the statistics. The numbers DON'T LIE.

    March 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  9. Mari

    Wish Peyton the best luck! Where ever he goes he will do awesome!!!

    March 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  10. Mike

    Peyton has nothing on Kurt Warner though. Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf2thdQogTo. He should just come play for the Cards again.

    March 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply

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