In preparation for his retirement, Manning must have made many similar calls to teammates current and past, beckoning them to Denver to join him as he brought his career to a close before his family and closest friends.
"I’ll miss figuring out blitzes with [former Indianapolis C] Jeff Saturday, [former Indianapolis WR] Reggie [Wayne] sitting on top of the bench next to me, and perfecting a fake handoff to [former Indianapolis RB] Edgerrin James," Manning said. "I’ll miss [WR] Demaryius Thomas telling me that he loved me and thanking me for coming to Denver after every touchdown I threw to him.
"I’ll miss the plane rides after a big win with 53 teammates standing in the aisles laughing and celebrating during the whole flight."
How much Manning will miss those moments with his teammates is surely a sentiment shared by them, as well.
"You talk about a guy that every Thursday, he set up a steak dinner with the offense. You talk about a guy that set up group chats, group message and would message guys almost every night about something that's going on in the game plan," Sanders said. "And here he is with all these accomplishments, MVPs; he doesn't have to do that, but he treats everybody—I don't care if you're an equipment guy, media guys, you know how he is—I mean, he treated everybody so well and that brought a family environment, a sense of love around this organization and around the National Football League."
"It’s crazy, I knew Peyton even before he was my quarterback," Anunike recalled. "Being at Duke, you know as a Duke Blue Devil, he was coached by [Duke head coach David Cutcliffe], him and [Giants QB] Eli [Manning] at Ole Miss and Tennessee. I remember walking through the halls one day, and Coach Cutcliffe and Peyton were walking out and I kind of got shocked a little bit. I’m a senior in college and he walks up to me and says, ‘Hey, Peyton, this is my premier defensive end Kenny Anunike,’ and I’m like, ‘Wow.’ I shook his hand, and that’s when he had his surgery on his neck and I was there, too, rehabbing. We got to talking and I got to learn a lot about the guy, a lot about his character, a lot about how he works and to see now that I’ve become his teammate and then to come here and view his retirement, it’s absolutely tremendous. It’s a day I’ll never forget."
The passing records and championships will be long remembered and revered, but the friendship and trust among his peers is something Peyton Manning forged everywhere he went that will also leave a memorable impact.