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The Manning era of the Indianapolis Colts officially ended today, as team owner Jim Irsay announced the release of the team's quarterback after 14 years.
Both men fought back tears during an emotional press conference where they told the world about the break-up.
"As difficult as this day is, it’s made difficult because of the greatness and the things Peyton has done for our city, for our state, for our franchise," Irsay told reporters. "There will be no other Peyton Manning.”
The 35-year-old quarterback has been plagued by injuries and sat out the entire 2011 NFL season due to neck surgery. And as part of a contract extension he signed last year, the Colts would have had to pay Manning a $28 million bonus to keep him on the team past March 8th.
"Peyton and I have had numerous conversations over the months," said Irsay. "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 too difficult to overcome. We're going forward as a rebuilding team with salary cap problems, and Peyton is on the mend to try and resume his career."
"This has not been easy for Jim," Manning said, "and this has certainly not been easy for me."
During his time with the Colts, Manning led the team to a 2007 Super Bowl win and was named the National Football League MVP a staggering four times. In honor of his legacy with the team, the Colts will retire Manning's number.
“The 18 jersey,” Irsay said, “will never be worn again.”
So what's next for the star quarterback? He's now a free agent and providing he's healthy, it's likely that several teams will be interested in bringing him on board. But no matter where he goes, Manning's heart will stay in Indianapolis.
"I'll always be a Colt. I always will be. That'll never change."
Watch part of the press conference below:
Megan Sayers is the managing editor for ModernMom. Follow her on Twitter @MeganSayers