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It has been so great to watch him play. He will be missed on that playing field.

Peyton Manning, quarterback for Denver Broncos, to retire

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After capping his fourth season as a Bronco with a victory in Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning has informed the team of his decision to retire following his 18-year NFL career.

In the four years since arriving in Denver as a free agent in 2012, Manning ushered the franchise into one of the most successful periods in Broncos history. He helped the Broncos achieve AFC West division titles, two Super Bowl appearances and one World Championship. Along the way, Manning set numerous NFL career and single-season records, including league marks for passing yards and passing touchdowns.

“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 John Elway, Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager. “Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more—not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”

Manning’s path to Denver was forged in uncertainty and incredible determination following neck surgeries that forced him to miss the 2011 season. Leaving a Colts franchise where he had spent his first 14 NFL seasons, he soon found a home in Denver. His decision to play in the Mile High City set in motion a run of greatness in which the Broncos posted a league-high 55 total wins and a .764 winning percentage.

Manning set nearly every Broncos single-season passing record in his first year with the Broncos in 2012 to earn NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors and finish as runner-up for league MVP.

He raised the bar even higher in 2013, putting together the most prolific season ever by a quarterback and earning his record-fifth MVP award. Directing the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, Manning set league single-season marks for passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55) while leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1998 season.

The Broncos made their third consecutive playoff appearance under Manning in 2014. That season he became the league’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, passing Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre with his 509th touchdown against the 49ers.

In his final season, Manning battled injury, leaving the starting lineup midway through the year to rehab a torn plantar fascia. He made a remarkable return in Week 17, providing a spark to Denver’s struggling offense in the second half against the Chargers to help Denver clinch homefield advantage through the postseason.

Three playoff wins later, Manning and the Broncos were Super Bowl 50 champions. Could it have ended any other way?

“It was a blessing to coach Peyton Manning. Nobody worked harder at the game and nobody prepared harder than Peyton. His preparation was the best I’ve ever seen with how he went about his business. There was nothing like his work habits. Each and every week, he did everything he could to get ready to play not only against the defense but even against the coordinator,” said Head Coach Gary Kubiak. “Being with him this season, going through what we went through and accomplishing what we accomplished—that was special. He and I battled together and along the way we talked about dreaming that it could end the way it ended. And I’ll be damned, it did.”

Manning leaves the league as arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game with a bevy of records and accomplishments, including:

– NFL all-time record holder in career touchdown passes (539)
– NFL all-time record holder in passing yards (71,940)
– NFL career leader in combined regular-season and playoff wins by a starting quarterback (200)
– Only quarterback in NFL history to lead two teams to a Super Bowl victory (Super Bowl XLI, 50)
– Most NFL MVP awards (five)
– Led teams to an NFL-record 15 playoff appearances
– Most Pro Bowl appearances (14)
– NFL single-season records in passing touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477)

Before arriving in Denver, Manning led Indianapolis to the playoffs in 11 of the 13 seasons that he was healthy. Those years included two Super Bowl appearances with one win in Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears.

His football career was matched by his humanitarian efforts off the field, with his PeyBack Foundation benefitting organizations that help disadvantaged youth in each of the states that he’s called home throughout his life: Louisiana, Tennessee, Indiana and Colorado. For his endeavors in the community, Manning has won the Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award (2004), the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award (2005) and the Bart Starr Award (2015)—one of just three players ever to receive all three of the NFL’s prestigious community honors.

“Our team, our organization and our community are all better because of Peyton Manning,” Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis said. “He raised the performance of those around him and raised the level of excellence here at the Broncos.”