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Peyton Manning's teammates reflect on his career

Posted Mar 7, 2016

Multiple Broncos and Colts teammates of Peyton Manning speak about their time playing with him during his 18-year career.


Kenny Anunike

Bennie Fowler

Ryan Harris

Von Miller

Click on a player to read quotes


Kenny Anunike

On observing Manning's emotions

"It was absolutely tremendous. Peyton, the Sheriff - ‘Money P,' as we call him - riding off into the sunset on his high horse. We wish nothing better for the guy. He's done everything he could for us, the organization and we did everything we could for him. To see him get a Super Bowl championship - Super Bowl 50 - such a turning point in the Super Bowl era. It's truly amazing. It's a blessing. I wish him the best. It's crazy, I knew Peyton even before he was my quarterback. 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."

On the age gap between Manning and most of his Broncos teammates

"He may be a little bit older than us, but he's always youthful at heart. During our talent shows, especially the rookie talent shows, he always starts it off with a few jokes. He's played a few pranks, so he keeps the locker room alive. He's an even-keeled guy. He knows exactly how to work, but then he also knows how to have fun at the end of the day. When your work is play, you're not really working - you're having fun. Peyton really showed us how to do that and how to be professional and how to enjoy doing what you do."


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Bennie Fowler

On watching Manning’s ceremony

“It’s a surreal moment. I’m happy for him. All that he’s accomplished in his career, it’s good to be a part of that. I was a little emotional. Just seeing all that he’s done for this game and hearing him being emotional up there and this being his last season, I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”

On catching Manning’s final pass in Super Bowl 50

“Yeah, it’s a great feeling, you know, catching his last pass and it being in Super Bowl 50 and us winning. It’s a great feeling.”

On giving Manning the touchdown ball a few days later

“I think it was special. I think it kind of told me that this might be his last game, last pass. I felt like it was the right thing to do to give him the ball back after all that he’s done for the game and his career. Him trusting me and throwing me the ball, I really appreciated that.”

On the lessons Manning has taught him

“He taught me how to be a pro—the way to approach the game, how to be a good player and teammate on and off the field. He’s taught me a lot. I actually got to meet Peyton when I was 10 years old. And now to be a teammate of his and him throwing me the ball, it’s amazing for me.”

On if it’ll be hard to imagine Manning not being at training camp

“It’s just going to be weird not to have him in the NFL at all this year. But I’m happy for him.”


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Ryan Harris

On if there was any chance he'd miss Manning's retirement ceremony

"No, I mean they gave us the opportunity to be here and just to support Peyton and show him how much, as his teammates, we appreciate everything he did for us this season and for this organization. I just wanted to be here."

On his quote that "Peyton Manning is forever"

"You’re not going to think about the game without thinking about Peyton Manning from here on out. There's few players who make you think about that with football and there's few players who make you think about that with basketball. So to be able to know Peyton as a teammate is one of the things I'm greatly appreciative for in my life as a football player. That's why we're here today."

On how Manning made everyone around his accountable and better

"Any time you think about leaving and Peyton Manning is not gone yet, you definitely want to stay and see what other work you can do. And when he asks you a question on the field, you better know the right answer. He just makes everybody elevate their game, their preparation and it's things that will stick with us as players long after he's left the game."

On observing Manning's emotions during his press conference

"We've seen him put his heart out this whole season. That's why I think all of us were here today and wanted to be here. I know there were a lot of guys that wanted to be here but weren't. But just to show him our support and saying thank you and how much he meant to us. And he knows how much he's meant to not only us but the team and the organization. It's a great day for Peyton."


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Von Miller

On attending QB Peyton Manning's retirement press conference

"It was important for me to see Peyton off. He's had a huge impact on my career and me personally. I had to be here. It was a no-brainer. He texted me the other day and he didn't say anything about the retirement and him being here today, but he asked if I was going to be in town. I was like, ‘I don't know, it's not on my schedule for the next two weeks.' Then I saw it go across the ticker and [Vice President of Public Relations] Patrick Smyth asked if I was going to be able to make it and I said, ‘You know what? I can.' I cancelled everything I had to do today, hopped on a Southwest flight and I'm here. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

On if there is a memory with Manning that stands out

"It just wouldn't be right to single out one moment. He's had a huge impact on my life. Seeing him for the first time and how he includes everybody in the organization - not just coaches, players or equipment guys, but everybody from the cooks to janitors. It didn't matter. They all had a relationship and that's definitely something that I want to include in my leadership qualities."

On what he learned from Manning

"It's been a lot. You're talking about Peyton Manning. Being with Peyton Manning for four years, he's had a huge influence on my life. I just think it's the type of leader that he is. Like I said before, the way that he includes everybody in the organization. He makes everybody feel part of the team. That's one of the biggest things that I took away from him."

On knowing Manning won't return next season

"It's always sad, but it's better when you think about the 18 years that he's put in the game and the type of influence that he's had - not just on the Denver Broncos or the Colts, but the whole sport of football. He revolutionized how you play the position of quarterback. There have been so many greats that have come before him, but he totally changed the quarterback position. You can't say quarterback without Manning. It just goes together. I think that's the brighter side of things."

On how Manning's retirement speech compares to the one he gave before Super Bowl 50

"They were two totally different speeches. That speech was for the team. It was the motivation and everything for the team. This was all about for Peyton. It's great and it's just that he had his time up there and had his moment. I think he could have went longer. There are so many things that he's done. Like I said before, the type of influence that he's had on the game is so much, you couldn't really just pack it into a short speech, but he did a great job with it."

On how Manning's inclusiveness has helped the organization

"We had a great locker room. I've said it time and time again. We had great character guys in our locker room and that selflessness that Peyton had, it set the example for everybody else on the squad."

On how Manning would do as a front office executive

"I think he'd be the same type - I think you see Mr. [Executive Vice President of Football Operations & General Manager John] Elway and the type of job that he's done and you see the type of job he did on the football field. I think Peyton - you can't say that he's going to have the same type of success, but I think he'll be super successful in the front office."

On Manning breaking down talent and film

"I mean he watched me in my quarterback drops and all of my steps and stuff. He told me that I had a future at quarterback, so I always appreciate that. I think he has an eye for good football players. You talk about the type of teammates that he's had and the type of teammates that he's been around. I think he has a great eye for the front office."


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Jeff Saturday (Colts teammate, 1999-2011)

On how difficult the decision to retire was for Manning

“Yeah, it’s funny when people talk about what the game of football really is, people talk about the money, they talk about the titles, they talk about fame—whatever it is. There is a love for the game, and when you do it for the love of the game, when you walk away, it’s hard because it’s not about all the rest of it. It’s not about Sunday’s. It’s about Monday through Saturday and it’s about those relationships in the locker room, the plane trips, the bus rides, locker room conversations—all the things that you go back and forth—film study. That’s what forges teams. That’s really what puts people together and builds relationship. He said it best when he said this game is a game about relationships. I think that’s the hardest part to walk away from, and it’s never going to get easy. He said it, ‘I’m going to miss it.’ Guaranteed he’s going to miss it.”

On the video of he and Manning arguing on the sidelines

“That’s part of the deal. That’s football. You value that now. There is no doubt. We valued it then. I mean, I remember he and I talked about it. He told me after that night that they show it all the time now, he’s like, ‘Man, I was mic’d up.’ I was like, ‘I don’t care.’ It doesn’t bother me a bit. We had those conversations on the practice field, in the locker room, meeting rooms, but when we left it, we were good. There was never any hard feelings. It was never taken personally. It was two guys who wanted the best for our team and whatever we had to do, we were going to fight for that. There is a certain level of respect that gets brought together between two individuals—both leaders, both Type-A, we’re both going to speak our mind—but that’s what I respect most about him because I never had to worry that he was going to hold some grudge or be upset because I went off on him. Come the next day, we’re going to get after it again and try to go win football games.”

On if he has ever met an individual as driven as Manning

“No, it’d be hard to say. I’m going to tell you, people ask me, ‘Work ethic-wise, how would you define him?’ I said, ‘He’s the guy who truly leads by example,’ and that gets you overused, but whatever he asked you to do, he was doing that and then some. There is a great respect for that.”

Brandon Stokley (Colts teammate, 2003-06; Broncos teammate, 2012)

On his thoughts of Manning's speech

“It was awesome. It really was. You start reminiscing about the good old days and the training camps and going to get some dinner on a night out and grabbing a cold pop, and that's what he was all about. He was all about team camaraderie and getting the guys together and not just about grinding you at practice. But it was also about making some memories on the plane ride home and the nights off in training camp. Those are what you remember.”

On how tough it was for Manning to say goodbye

“Especially him, I think it was a really tough decision and like he said, he wanted to have some time to enjoy the Super Bowl. The guy just won the Super Bowl. It's a big decision because he's not the guy that's going to flip-flop back and forth on retirement or not. He wanted to make the right decision and I'm happy for him. It was a great speech and a great day.”

On what he thinks is next for Manning

“Whatever he wants to do. I hope he takes a little time off and enjoys what he's accomplished, and then after that, whatever he decides to do, he'll be great at. ”

On offering advice as a fellow retired player

“No real advice. I think he'll handle it well. He'll stay busy. He's got a lot on his plate between all his commercials and everything else, so I'm sure he'll be a busy guy. But I'm sure he'll find some time to play some golf and enjoy himself.”

On if he sees Manning as a possible front office executive

“Without a doubt. And he'll be great at it if he decides to go that route because nobody prepares and works, whether it's football or whatever he decides to do. He'll put everything he's got into it.”

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