Transcript of Colts news conference

Indianapolis ColtsSportsFootballBusinessRenovationPeyton ManningTarik Glenn

Jim Irsay Opening Statement:

“We are here to announce the conclusion of Peyton’s playing career with the Colts. We are here very much, as well, to honor all of the incredible memories and incredible things that he has done for the franchise, for the city and for the state. In the history of sports through the last century there have been, in team sports, a handful of hall of fame great players that have done incredible things for franchises. I know that this parallels the handful of people through time that have meant so much to the franchise. I know in my heart and the hearts of our fans it is unparalleled for the Colts. It is a difficult day here of shared pain between Peyton, myself, the fans and everyone. I think in that vein as well, the (number) 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field. This process has been a long, difficult process. I know Peyton and I have had numerous conversations over the months, and we always kept trying to come back to the circumstances that were before us. We tried to put each other in each other’s shoes, and tried to realize what the situation was for the franchise and what it was for Peyton. In the end, those circumstances were to difficult to overcome. Circumstances that dictated to us, to the franchise, that really were unavoidable. It is something where, as we are going forward, being a rebuilding team with salary cap problems and Peyton is on the mend, to try to resume his career, we both wanted to be together. It has been very difficult and just tearing at our hearts to try and look at the situation and find the best solution. I think Peyton has been completely unselfish in terms of looking at (where) the franchise was at, and where we are at in this point. I tried to put myself in Peyton’s situation as well. In the end, before we ever got into any specifics, it has never been about money. It’s never been about those type of things. To be blessed here today, to have gone through the experiences we have together as an owner, having Peyton as a friend and a player, and all of the things that we’ve been through, it is an incredible blessing. As difficult as this day is, it is made difficult because of the greatness and the things Peyton has done for our city, for our state and for our franchise. There will be no other Peyton Manning. That is something that in a special place, in a special time over the last decade and a half, we have been so blessed to have him. The good times that we’ve had together and the laughs we’ve shared together. Growing up together in the organization, when a 37-year old owner met a 22-year old player coming out of Tennessee, and the dreams that we had and experienced are just beyond my imagination. As difficult as this is, I know that our journey together hasn’t ended. It has really just begun. When I look down the road and see the many decades going forward that we’ll share together and how he is always part of the horseshoe. It is something where I can’t thank him enough. When I look back and reflect back on everything that has happened, whenever we went on the road the circus was coming into town. And Peyton was the ringleader. The memories that we have and the great people we’ve been blessed to be around I will always treasure. (I) just want to turn it over to Peyton now to say a few more words.”

Peyton Manning Opening Statement:

“I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts. For 14 wonderful years the only professional football I’ve known has been Colts football. Our teams won a lot of games here, I’ve played with so many great teammates here and I’ve been part of a great organization here. An organization and an owner who I respect and continue to respect. I’ve been a Colt for almost all of my adult life. But I guess in life and in sports, we all know that nothing lasts forever. Times change. Circumstances change. And that is the reality of playing in the NFL. Jim and I have spoken extensively about where we are today, and our conversations have led both of us to recognize that our circumstances make it best for us to take this next step. This has not been easy for Jim, and it certainly has not been easy for me. Jim, along with Bill Polian, drafted me 14 years ago. Jim and I have always been close, and we’ve made a lot of great memories together. He has always been good to me, and Jim, I will be forever grateful. This town and this team mean so much to me. It truly has been an honor to play in Indianapolis. I do love it here, I love the fans and I will always enjoy having played for such a great team. I will leave the Colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude to Jim, the organization, my teammates, the media and especially the fans. I haven’t thought yet about where I will play, but I have thought a lot about where I’ve been. I have truly been blessed. I’ve been blessed to play here, and I’ve been blessed to be in the NFL. As I go, I go with just a few words left to say. A few words I want to address to Colts fans everywhere. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

 

Peyton Manning

On when they were finally able to come to a decision:

“Jim and I have been talking for a long time. We’ve really had some great conversations. We’ve enjoyed kind of going down memory lane together about some of the great moments we’ve had here during our time together for 14 years. That is really what this has been about for me at this time is that reflection of so many great memories and how grateful I am to Jim, the team and just how awesome it has been for this time. We’ve covered all sorts of scenarios, and like he said, these circumstances, they are not the way either of us wished they were. But that is the reality, and that is kind of how it got to this point. So I don’t necessarily think there was a decisive point. It was just good healthy talks, fun talks in person, over the phone and long talks. That is kind of how we got here.”

On how confident he is that he will be able to continue his playing career:

“I am confident. I don’t know what these next steps are, this is all kind of new to me. This is the only team I’ve ever known, and I’ve always known what the month of March is for an offseason getting ready to go play for the Colts the next season. This is kind of unchartered territory for me, so we’ll see how all that plays out.”

On what the one thing was the prevented the two sides from coming to an agreement:

“The contract and the money was never a factor in this for either of us.”

(Jim Irsay) “I think it also came down to the plane running out of gas last night too, because we had to land. I think that we knew that there was a date there, and at the same time, all of the scenarios we talked through, like I said, Peyton unselfishly had the interest of the franchise. I tried to advise him in terms of what is in his best interest as well. Like Peyton said, these circumstances are something that neither one of us could have imagined a couple of years ago or even a year ago.”

 

Jim Irsay

On the advice that was given to Peyton Manning with his best interest in mind:

“I just think that as a franchise where we are right now with the salary cap and where we are rebuilding, we are definitely a few years away. I want to see him come back and play great. There is no question about it. It is just that here, just like in 2001 when he was completely healthy and everything else, we didn’t have everything to surround him. I want that opportunity for him as well to succeed at the end of his career.”

 

Peyton Manning

On continuing to develop roots in the city of Indianapolis:

“I’m not leaving Indianapolis, I’m not going to be with the Colts. This city has been so great to me and it’s still a huge part of my life. It’s a departure from the Colts, but certainly not from the great city of Indianapolis.”

On being at peace with the decision:

“I’ve certainly been prepared for the possible scenario for some time. Nobody, like Jim and I said, wishes these circumstances had arrived with my injury and with the team’s record last year. I am at peace. It’s been very difficult for both Jim and I. I don’t think anybody quite understands the emotions that he and I felt and he and I have been able to share those together. It’s been nice to have someone bounce those emotions off of. It’s kind of in a similar boat. It’s been very difficult and we try to keep it in perspective. I think all of us need to remember and our thoughts and prayers need to be with the tornado victims in Indiana and the Tennessee area. You very much have to keep it in perspective. It’s certainly been emotional and it has weighed real heavy on my heart. But, yeah, I am at peace with it.”

On what the timeline is now moving forward:

“I really don’t know. I probably need to ask someone what these next steps are. The immediate thing that I plan to do next is to say thank you. To thank so many people who have had such a big impact on my time here with the Colts. Certainly Jim and I have had many personal conversations and I think he certainly understands how grateful I am to him and the entire organization and what they have done for me. I’ll have a chance to visit, right after this, with some employees who have been here for a number of years. A lot of them have been here since 1984 and 1998 when we went 3-13. (Those) who were there from the beginning from my career. So a chance for me to say thank you. That’s really what this time is about. I certainly am grateful.”

On how closely he will follow the Colts’ rebuilding process:

“I’ll always be a Colt. I always will be and that will never change. Jim has certainly made me feel welcome after this to come by any time. I’ll always keep up. It’s hard to make comparisons on years. I remember how 1998 was for me and I know how much it helped me with the supporting cast that Jim and Bill (Polian) put in place and what we built from there. It has been fun. I know you guys ask me if I’ve had a lot of time to reflect. I have had time to reflect on that year and the other years we’ve had since. And they have been great memories. The relationships with the coaches, the teammates and support staff here. I have nothing but appreciation.”

On how he is throwing the football:

“I’m throwing it pretty well. I still have some work to do and some progress to make. I’ve come a long way and I’ve really worked hard. I can’t tell you the hours and the time I’ve put in to working hard. I really enjoy being back out there. I’ve had a chance to throw with some of my teammates. Guys like Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin (Collie), (Brandon) Stokley and (Jeff) Saturday has snapped to me a couple of times. That’s been the most fun part. Being back on the field or in the training room. All fall, you’re sort of off limits to the field, so to get back out there and throw, and I’ve sure enjoyed that. I’m doing better, I’m going to continue to work hard and hopefully (I’ll) keep making some progress.”

On feeling like himself when he is on the field throwing the football:

“I’m feeling closer and closer. I have to remind myself that it is March and I have a hard time doing it at times. It sure feels comfortable. It feels kind of like home being back out there. For not being able to go back on the field (since) September, October and November, that was personally difficult. It’s nice to have that freedom and I’m working hard. Like I said, I still have some work to do, but I’m looking forward to doing that work. Hopefully, I’ll keep making progress.”

On what his favorite memory is:

“That’s a hard question. I have so many. I really do. This is a relationship business with coaches, teammates, and support staff. We have the greatest equipment guys in the world and I think about those types of relationships. Not necessarily always on the field and the touchdown throw to win the game. It’s behind the scenes, the laughs, the stories and the time spent together. Those are the memories. Those aren’t going away. Those will be with me for the rest of my life. There are so many, I certainly can’t pick one. I just know that I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed. I’m truly appreciative and thankful.”

On lobbying his case to stay with the Colts over the decision process:

“Jim and I never got into that situation. We had good, healthy talks about where everything was and what the circumstances were. The circumstances was the third guy in the talks with us all the time. It wasn’t (Jim’s) decision, it wasn’t my decision. The circumstances kind of dictated that. Like I said, it’s not what either of us wanted. It’s just kind of the way it worked out to be. But, I really enjoyed these talks with (Jim). We’ve really had some laughs and some great memories. Jim and I will have a strong relationship forever.”

On if he considered retiring as a Colt:

“I don’t want to retire. 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. But, there is no other team I wanted to play for. Nobody has had it better than I have playing for the Indianapolis Colts for these 14 years. I just can’t say how thankful and fortunate I feel to have played here. I love playing quarterback.”

 

Jim Irsay

On what can he say to fans to assure them that he’s making the necessary moves to rebuild the team:

“I think that it’s always a difficult process. It’s not like I sat there a year and a half ago and said, ‘We really want to rebuild, we’re looking forward to rebuilding.’ It didn’t work that way. I think with injuries, the erosion of time on the roster and different things and circumstances dictated that. I think people lose track of the salary cap and where we are really at there. Just to sign our draft picks, we’re going to have to make more roster moves. It’s something where that’s talk for a later day. Obviously, it’s something where you know to duplicate what we’ve done over the last 12-plus years, that’s very difficult to do. You know how hard it is. Peyton and I talked about it, how hard it is to win in this league. It’s going to be a process for us. Hopefully, we’ll watch Peyton win immediately and that will continue to slowly build and find our stride. As Peyton and I talked, the hope and plan was that it would be a slow continuity. That we would slowly go into it and there wouldn’t be such jagged edges to all of the sudden rebuilding being upon you. But, it forced itself upon us. It’s something that’s a challenge. Both Peyton and I talked and we’re always up for challenges. I know he’s up for the challenge going forward from here. If anyone can do it, he can. At the same time, we’re up for the challenge, but we’re a ways away. In 1998 we had more pieces in place with Tarik Glenn, Adam Meadows, Marcus Pollard, Ken Dilger, and two hall of fame players in Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison. It’s a challenge, but I know we’ll continue to work at it as we go through each day.”

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