Harsh reality - Colts release Manning

While saying he'll 'always be a Colt,' all-time great QB seeks a new team
March 8, 2012 12:01 am
  • Peyton Manning, left, collects his thoughts as he joins Colts owner Jim Irsay at a news conference Wednesday in Indianapolis announcing that the team had released Manning == the third most prolific passer in NFL history.
    Peyton Manning, left, collects his thoughts as he joins Colts owner Jim Irsay at a news conference Wednesday in Indianapolis announcing that the team had released Manning == the third most prolific passer in NFL history.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Sent packing by his only NFL team, one he transformed from afterthought to Super Bowl champion, Peyton Manning said goodbye to the Indianapolis Colts with a shaky voice and tear-filled eyes, then got ready to find a new place to play quarterback.

At a podium alongside owner Jim Irsay, who cut the injured star Wednesday rather than pay a $28 million bonus, Manning was by turns wistful, nostalgic -- he got choked up while praising the equipment managers -- and forward-looking.

The only four-time MVP in NFL history figures to become as coveted a free agent as the league has seen, assuming he can assuage any concerns about the series of neck operations that forced him to miss the 2011 season. Arizona, Miami, Seattle, Tennessee, Washington and the New York Jets all have been rumored as possible destinations.

"Nobody loves their job more than I do. Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do. I still want to play. But there is no other team I wanted to play for," said Manning, who turns 36 this month.

Still, he acknowledged: "We all know that nothing lasts forever. Times change, circumstances change, and that's the reality of playing in the NFL."

Another reality: Manning should command plenty of offers on the open market. It's not very often that teams get a crack at a quarterback who has thrown for more than 50,000 yards and nearly 400 touchdowns, been picked for 11 Pro Bowls and been a Super Bowl MVP.

Because he was released, Manning is allowed to negotiate and sign with any club immediately; he does not need to wait until the free-agent period Tuesday.

"I'm throwing it pretty well. I've still got some work to do; I've got some progress to make," he said. "But I've come a long way. I can't tell you the hours and the time I've put in."

Reaction poured into Twitter feeds from the sports world -- not merely from NFL players publicly lobbying for their teams to sign Manning. Dwyane Wade of the NBA's Miami Heat urged Manning to head to that city's Dolphins, while tennis' Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, observed: "The colts cutting Peyton feels like the north pole kicking out Santa."


First Published 2012-03-07 23:34:38

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