It comes as no surprise to fans of American football that Super Bowl champion quarterback Peyton Manning has decided he has played his last National Football League game.
With his 40th birthday arriving March 24, and fresh off leading the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl championship last month over the Carolina Panthers, Manning confirmed in a statement on the Broncos' website Sunday that he will retire.
In his 18 seasons, Manning set all-time NFL records for most touchdown passes with 539 and most passing yardage with 71,940 (65,782 m), and he shares the league record for most wins by any quarterback at 186 with Brett Favre, who retired five years ago. Manning is the only player in the NFL to have won five Most Valuable Player awards.
Manning compiled most of his statistics with the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2011. After neck surgery threatened his career and kept him sidelined for the entire 2011 season, the Colts released him. But less than two weeks later, he agreed to a five-year deal for $96 million to play for the Denver Broncos.
While many thought he would never be the same quarterback he was with Indianapolis, Manning led the Broncos to two Super Bowls in four seasons, winning one and losing one, just as he had done in Indianapolis in his 14 seasons with the Colts. On February 7 he became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, in a 24-10 upset victory over Carolina.
"It was a blessing to coach Peyton Manning," said Denver head coach Gary Kubiak. "Nobody worked harder at the game and nobody prepared harder than Peyton."
Broncos General Manager John Elway, who had quarterbacked Denver to two Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s and took a chance on Manning after his neck surgery, paid tribute to the quarterback on the team's website.
"When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it's easy to see how fortunate we've been to have him on our team," said Elway.
Star New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whose single season record of 50 touchdown throws Manning broke with 55 in 2013, had these words on his Twitter account Sunday: "Congratulations, Peyton, on an incredible career. You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It's been an honor."
Manning is to formally announce his NFL retirement at a news conference on Monday. There is no doubt when he becomes eligible that he will be voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.