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.
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?
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.”
Full statements from the Broncos
President & CEO Joe Ellis
"The Denver Broncos are so proud to have called Peyton Manning our quarterback for the last four years, and we can’t thank him enough for his many contributions to our team and community.
"On the field, Peyton’s competitiveness, intensity and leadership helped us to one of the most successful periods in our history, highlighted by four consecutive division titles, two AFC Championship victories and a win in Super Bowl 50. Off the field, Peyton’s kindness and generosity, especially toward those in need, made a real difference on a very personal level.
"Our team, our organization and our community are all better because of Peyton Manning. He raised the performance of those around him and raised the level of excellence here at the Broncos.
"Peyton’s been a first-class ambassador who did things the right way and had such a positive impact on the Broncos. We look forward to celebrating his future induction into both the Broncos’ Ring of Fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS/GENERAL MANAGER JOHN ELWAY
"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. Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more—not only for the football team but in the community.
"There’s no question that his work ethic is what made him into one of the great quarterbacks of all time. All the film study Peyton did and the process that he went through with game planning and understanding what the other teams did was second-to-none.
"Peyton was a player that guys wanted to play with. That made us better as a team, and I’m thrilled that we were able to win a championship in his final year. Peyton won a lot of awards and set a lot of records, but to me, what he helped our team accomplish during the last four years is what stands out the most.
"I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career."
HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAK
"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.
"After competing against Peyton many, many times, I already had great respect for him. But 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.
"Peyton and I will have some interesting stories throughout the rest of our lives to talk about going through this year together. He’s a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame person, and I wish him all the best in the future."