Manning says money not the reason behind leaving Colts

Peyton Manning insists money was never an issue and that he is throwing ‘pretty well’, after he confirmed his release from the Indianapolis Colts.

The four-time MVP instantly became one of the hottest free agents ever to hit the market in the NFL, as the Colts decided against paying his $28 million bonus and instead release him onto the open market.

Manning missed all of last season with a neck injury and the huge bonus coming his way made it a big risk for the Colts to keep him on, especially as they have the first pick of the draft to bring in Andrew Luck as a replacement.

The 35-year-old Manning spoke of what a tough decision it was for both Colts owner Jim Irsay and himself to make, as talks over renegotiating his deal to allow him to stay in Indianapolis ultimately failed.

“The contract and the money was never a factor,” said Manning, who insisted he was leaving Indianapolis with nothing but fond memories as his emotions almost got the better of him.

“This has not been easy for Jim and it certainly has not been easy for me. Jim and I have always been close – he’s always been good to me.


“This town and this team mean so much to me. It truly has been an honour to play for Indianapolis.

“I will leave the Colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude to Jim, the organization, my teammates the media and, especially, the fans.”

Manning must now turn his attentions to finding a new home in the NFL, but found it hard to control his emotions as he said a teary goodbye to the Colts.

“I sure have loved playing football for the Indianapolis Colts. I have 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,” Manning added.

“I haven’t thought yet about where I’ll play but I have thought a lot about where I’ve been, and I’ve truly been blessed to play here and blessed to be in the NFL.

“I don’t know what these next steps are. This is the only team I’ve ever known. This is kind of uncharted territory for me, I’m going to have to see how that all plays out.”

Irsay revealed that the Colts would retire Manning’s famous No. 18 jersey as a mark of respect, adding that circumstances made Manning’s release the only real solution for both parties.

“The 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colt on the field,” said Irsay. “It’s been very difficult and just tearing at our hearts to try to look at the situation and find the best solution.”

“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. There will be no other Peyton Manning.”

While the Colts will retire Manning’s jersey, the future Hall of Fame quarterback has no intentions of hanging up his pads and says he is eager to get back on the field after returning to throwing.

“I’m throwing it pretty well,” he said. “I still have some progress to make, but I’ve been working pretty hard. I’m enjoying being back out there. Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do.”