Manning: I will always be a Colt
Both Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay were emotional and tearful in announcing the quarterback's departure from the Indianapolis Colts after 14 years.
I'll always be a Colt," Manning said at the news conference. "I always will be. That will never change."
In speaking about the split between the Colts, Manning said he wanted fans to know that it is not his fault nor Irsay's, but that in their talks, it was the circumstances that dictated Manning's departure in Indy. Manning called those circumstances as "the third man in the room," referring to his neck condition coupled with the $28 million roster bonus that was due tomorrow to keep him on the roster, plus the club's own rebuilding situation.
"In the end, the circumstances were too difficult to overcome," Manning said.
Irsay said he wanted Manning to have an opportunity to continue to win in the latter stages of his career and said the Colts simply could not afford him that at the present time with a major rebuilding situation on their hands.
"As a franchise, where we are right now with the salary cap, we're a few years away. I want to see him come back and play great. There's no question about it," Irsay said." It's just here, just like in 2001 when he was completely healthy and we didn't have everyone to surround him. I just want to see him succeed at the end of his career."
Manning reiterated his desire to play in 2012, wherever that may be, and said his condition is improving as he tries to regain the strength in his throwing arm after four neck procedures that cost him all of the 2011 season.
Irsay announced that Manning's No. 18 jersey will never be worn again by a Colts player.
Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com