NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
DENVER BRONCOS COACHES/ADMINISTRATION
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.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR RICK DENNISON (BRONCOS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR, 2015)
“I only had a year working with Peyton, but it was a learning experience for me. He’s fun to work with. He’s good to talk to about anything—the gameplan or even your kids. He was very diligent and worked his tail off. He had to have an answer for every front, every blitz and every coverage, which was good. He was just a great man to work with. I’m thrilled that his career is ending with a Super Bowl victory and look forward to seeing what’s next for him.”
QUARTERBACKS COACH GREG KNAPP (BRONCOS QUARTERBACK COACH, 2013-15)
“Peyton really enjoys the paving of the road to success—the process that begins in the spring and culminates in February, if you are lucky. Not just the game itself. He’s one of the most thoughtful players I have ever coached. He takes the time to give gifts or speak to the history of the game that creates lifetime memories. If I had one word to describe him it would be ‘gracious.’ His memory and recall not only of games from a decade ago but best lines from movies two decades ago is unsurpassed. I will cherish not only the player-coach relationship that we developed, but more importantly the friendship that was forged. It got us through the ups and downs of a season and made the finish to this season that much sweeter. Peyton’s skillset off the field is just as—if not more—impressive than on the field. I can safely say no matter which path he chooses in the future, he will be successful.”
VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CINDY KELLOGG
“Since Day One in this community, Peyton has been the consummate professional, investing both his time and his money to advance the wellbeing of Coloradans. From countless Make-A-Wish fulfillments, to providing Thanksgiving dinners for members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, to connecting with victims of the Aurora Theater shootings, to walking shoulder to shoulder with the community in the American Heart Association Heart Walk, he has been there. He has been a true ambassador for the Denver Broncos, and our office acknowledges the high bar he set.”
CB CHAMP BAILEY (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2012-13)
“Peyton was the best quarterback that I faced in my NFL career. Beyond that, he was a great teammate during our two seasons together in Denver. He set the bar extremely high in terms of what it takes to be a great player in this league, and the NFL will miss him, for sure. I congratulate Peyton on his incredible NFL career and wish him all the best in his retirement.”
TE DALLAS CLARK (COLTS TEAMMATE, 2003-11)
“Peyton is a true pro! He represented the Colts, the Broncos and the NFL with great respect and honor. His passion, love and competitiveness were infectious and made everyone around him better. Peyton helped take the quarterback position to a level that might never be touched and he did it with class! It was an honor to have Peyton as my quarterback!”
RB MARSHALL FAULK (COLTS TEAMMATE, 1998)
“Congratulations, PM. What an awesome career. Watching you play was a delight. You changed the game and made the players and coaches around you better. I’m so thankful I got a chance to share a huddle with you. As a fan, teammate and friend, it has been an honor.”
WR BENNIE FOWLER (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2014-15: CAUGHT MANNING’S FINAL PASS IN SUPER BOWL 50 W/2-PT CONVERSION)
“Congratulations to Peyton and his family on a great and meaningful career. He has forever influenced the game of football and he should be proud. That pass (Manning’s final completion) has tremendous significance to me. I saw Peyton play in Indianapolis when I was around 10 years old. I got the chance to personally shake his hand before that game. Fast forward 14 years, and he’s my teammate telling me in the huddle that he’s going to throw his last pass to me. That’s an incredible and surreal experience that I’ll always be grateful for. I hope that my career will always be influenced by the discipline, respect and preparation Peyton has shown to me and football.”
DE DWIGHT FREENEY (COLTS TEAMMATE, 2002-11)
“I want to congratulate Peyton on an amazing career. Being around him for 10 years made me a better player and professional. His off the field preparation for a game is second to none which I am thankful I could learn from and be a part of. I wish him the best of luck in wherever life takes him next!”
S JOHN LYNCH (PLAYED AGAINST MANNING FOUR TIMES AS WELL AS AT PRO BOWL)
“I’m proud to have witnessed, competed against, broadcasted, watched as a fan and as a friend, one of the most prolific, successful and transcendent careers the NFL has ever seen. Production, longevity, excellence—Peyton’s run in this league checked all of the boxes at the highest level. Congratulations, Peyton, on going out on top and being one of the BEST to ever do it!”
LINEBACKER VON MILLER (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2002-15)
“I think Peyton was the perfect example of greatness and the perfect example of what it looks like to reach ultimate pinnacle to be great. He represents the struggle to get there, too. There are some superstars who are great their entire career, but everyone can relate to Peyton because he’s had his shares of ups and downs. He showed me exactly what a leader is. He was the perfect example of how to lead teammates for the rest of my career. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had someone who showed me how to lead and how relate to guys on both sides of the ball and really the entire organization. The equipment guys, the trainers, the coaches, the importance of those relationships—that’s what I’ll take from watching him. I think Peyton Manning will continue to be Peyton Manning in life. He’ll have a great gameplan, call great audibles, have great secondary plans if needed, and will continue to be successful.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2012-15)
“I will be forever grateful for the four seasons that Peyton and I shared together in Denver. Peyton’s attention to detail, how he went about his preparation and his desire to win football games is what I will remember most. Peyton displays how to be the ultimate pro every single day. I am a better football player today because of my time spent with him. I congratulate him on a Hall of Fame career and wish him continued success in the future.”
C MATT PARADIS (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2014-15)
“Being able to spend the beginning of my career with Peyton Manning at quarterback was an amazing experience. I learned a tremendous amount from him on the field, seeing his preparation and competitiveness each day. He also instilled in me the importance of conducting myself like a true professional off the field. Earning his trust and vote of confidence as a player with little experience meant a lot to me. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him these past two seasons. Thanks for the experience, ‘18’!”
WR EMMANUEL SANDERS (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2014-15)
“To play alongside Peyton the past two years has truly been a blessing. Watching him and mimicking how he handled his business on and off the field is a huge reason why I’ve had success. His presence will not only be missed on the field but also in the locker room. I’m proud of him, and I’m glad that we accomplished the goals we set of winning a championship together. Peyton is my teammate, my friend and my brother. I’m forever grateful.”
C JEFF SATURDAY (COLTS TEAMMATE, 1999-2011)
“It was an honor to play with Peyton. The way he prepared, the way he practiced and the way he worked from Monday to Saturday are the things I respect the most. Anything Peyton asked you to do, you knew he was doing that and more. He truly led by example. People called us an old married couple because we would battle, argue, and yell, but at the same time, we had so much respect for each other. That’s why we enjoyed it so much—we knew the other one cared as much as we did.”
WR BRANDON STOKLEY (COLTS TEAMMATE, 2003-06; BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2012)
“In my opinion, Peyton goes down as the best quarterback who ever played. Without a doubt, he revolutionized the position, and now, all QBs want to live up to the standard he set. Nobody will ever do it the way he did it. He never came to work and didn’t put in 100 percent. Personally, there was no better teammate or friend than he was. Whatever he does in the next chapter, it will be just as successful as his football career. I wish him nothing but the best in the next journey.”
WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2012-15)
“I still remember the first year sitting down talking to Peyton. I think I said something like, ‘Hello, Sir,’ just because he had been playing so long and was so successful. Playing with him, being in the meeting room with him, that made me a better pro. I learned how to watch film and knew what players were doing so when we got on the field, we knew exactly what to expect. He knew how to change plays—I can remember one game in particular, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012), he changed the play because of something he saw and we scored a touchdown. Being around him, everyone thinks he’s serious, but he likes to have fun and he likes to win. He was more than a teammate—He was like a brother. If you needed someone to talk to, he was there. He was the best pro I’ve ever been around. Our four years together went by fast, but it’s great that he was able to go out with a Super Bowl. I wish Peyton all the best and am excited to see what he’ll do.”
OLB DEMARCUS WARE (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2014-15; PLAYED AGAINST MANNING 3 TIMES AS WELL AT PRO BOWL)
“You always hear about Peyton Manning and how he controls the game, uplifts other players to his standards, and I was fortunate to see it as a teammate and opponent. He was one of those guys who was a great competitor who took chances. When I played against him in Dallas (2013 game), I had the bootleg responsibility and I never thought he would do it (score a TD on a bootleg). The weird thing is, he looked at me before with this image of, ‘I got you.’ Being his teammate, I saw how he carried himself, how meticulous he was, how much of a competitor and how great he was off the field. He was one of those guys that if you had an event, a dinner, he was always engaged in every guy’s life. He knew what the trash man’s name was, the trainers, the cafeteria workers—all by name. He always thought about everyone else. When you think of the word ‘champion,’ he’s the image that you see.”
WR WES WELKER (BRONCOS TEAMMATE, 2013-14)
“Being able to play with Peyton Manning was everything you thought it would be. The accuracy on his throws was incredible—you’d come out of your break and the ball would always be there. He made it so easy on you. The success he had wasn’t by accident, though. It was a result of the hard work, preparation and accountability he demanded not only of himself but of all of his teammates. Personally, his friendship is something I’ll always be grateful for. We had a lot of fun times, stories and a lot of great memories together as teammates that I’ll cherish. Whatever is next for Peyton, I know he’ll be great, and I wish him all the best.”
FORMER COACHES / ADMINISTRATION
ARIZONA CARDINALS HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS (MANNING QB COACH 1998-2000; COMPETED AGAINST HIM SEVERAL TIMES AS A COACH)
“I called him the piranha. I could never get him enough information, whether it was about the opponent or our gameplan or anything else. We had him in for a pre-draft interview in ‘98 and he had a notebook full of questions for us including one about the Indiana tax code. I remember thinking, ‘Who interviewed who here?’ He’s an absolutely tireless worker on the fundamentals and also one of the best practical jokers in the world. I was proud to have him as a quarterback but I’m more proud to have him as a good friend. I wish him nothing but the best with whatever’s ahead in the next chapters.”
DETROIT LIONS HEAD COACH JIM CALDWELL (COACHED MANNING W/COLTS FROM 2002-11)
“There will never be another Peyton Manning.
“While his records, Super Bowls and on-the-field accomplishments speak for themselves, what impressed me most about Peyton was his quest for being the very best. He was as driven and committed as anyone I’ve ever been around.
“While he obviously had tremendous God-given ability, Peyton’s preparation, dedication and commitment suggested otherwise. It was unparalleled. There wasn’t a day that went by that he wasn’t working to get better. In many ways, he prepared each and every day as if he were a free agent trying to earn a spot on an NFL roster. He was driven to be the best.
“I will forever cherish the 10 years I had with Peyton. His approach and commitment to the game made all of us who coached and played with him better. And while he expected the best from his coaches and teammates, he still held himself to the highest standard of all. That approach, combined with his physical ability, made him one of the greatest to ever play the game.”
DUKE UNIVERSITY HEAD COACH DAVID CUTCLIFFE (MANNING’S OFFENSIVE COORD./QBS AT TENNESSEE)
“Peyton Manning changed the game for the good. I watched him do it at the University of Tennessee in the manner that he impacted his teammates in a positive way, and the game. The impact was big. It was big on the Southeastern Conference, as a matter of fact. It has been interesting watching him from his rookie year and moving on through. Just as the NFL changed, he changed. What a run this guy has had. It was 18 years. He has gone to the Super Bowl with four coaches. With that said, I believe he made a lot of us a good coach. For that, I’m appreciative to him. All of us have enjoyed a premier career. I’m very appreciative. He has been inspirational to me as a friend and coach. He has made me a better person.”
FORMER INDIANAPOLIS COLTS HEAD COACH TONY DUNGY (MANNING’S COACH FROM 2002-08)
“It was just a joy to coach Peyton, and he’s one of the special players come across. He made my job as a coach so easy because when your best player is the hardest working, when your best player gives back to community, does things the right way and does all the things that you sell as a coach, it makes it so much easier. We had a lot of great times together and went through a lot of things together. For me, it was so much more than a coach and player relationship. We had a friendship that I’ll enjoy forever. I couldn’t be happier that his career culminated this way with his second Super Bowl victory.”
CHICAGO BEARS HEAD COACH JOHN FOX (MANNING’S HEAD COACH W/BRONCOS, 2012-14)
“It was a privilege and honor to be Peyton’s coach. I don’t know if people truly understand how much he had to work through when he first joined our team in Denver. He was coming off a major injury and really had to re-teach himself how to throw in a new system with new teammates. The fact that he had success so fast is really a testament to his makeup. He took us from an 8-8 team that won a playoff game and got us to a point where the Broncos became, ‘America’s Team.’ In my opinion, he put the Broncos back on the map. I’d known him as far as someone being in the league for so long, through Pro Bowls and mutual friends. We already had a connection, but to have him every day as your quarterback was a great privilege. He’s funnier than heck and he was really fun to coach. He’s had a tremendous impact on this league with all he’s done. He’s had an amazing career, and like I told him, ‘What a way to go out on top.’”
FORMER UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE HEAD COACH PHILLIP FULMER (MANNING’S COACH FROM 1994-97)
“I am so proud of Peyton, not for only his incredible accomplishments, and his historic legacy, but how he represented the game, how he pushed himself and led his teammates, and the example he set as a man, father, husband, and citizen. He changed how the QB position is played. He is a true Tennessee legend.”
MIAMI DOLPHINS HEAD COACH ADAM GASE (MANNING QB COACH IN ‘12, OC FROM ‘13-14)
“I have such respect for the way Peyton worked, the way he prepared and his unmatched competitiveness. After all the records, the MVPs, the Pro Bowls, he still worked like it was his first day in the league. Whether we were in training camp or OTAs, he truly enjoyed being out there with the guys, going against the defense and competing. The grind of it, the way we worked together for those three years, was really special and something I’ll always remember. I’m happy for him and congratulate him on his amazing career.”
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS OWNER MR. JIM IRSAY (MANNING SPENT 14 YEARS W/COLTS FROM 1998-2011)
“Few have left their marks on a sport as Peyton Manning has. Simply put, he revolutionized NFL football. Peyton energized it as had no one before him, he made it more fun for our fans, and made the game better.
“Off the field, Peyton has been a tremendous ambassador for the game and the epitome of someone who gives back to the community. He is the most recognizable face in the history of the NFL, and perhaps it’s most popular.
“I will miss seeing #18 on the field on Sundays and I am proud and thankful for all he’s done for the Colts, our community, and the NFL. On behalf of Colts and NFL fans worldwide, I thank Peyton and congratulate him on an incredible career.”
FORMER NFL COUNTERPARTS
PATRIOTS QB TOM BRADY (PLAYED AGAINST MANNING 17 TIMES)
“Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career. You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It’s been an honor.”
FORMER DENVER BRONCOS HEAD COACH MIKE SHANAHAN (COMPETED AGAINST MANNING 8 TIMES)
“Peyton Manning has set the tone for future generations on how the game should be played. He’s raised the standard of the preparation that’s needed to separate yourself from the best. If you had any flaws in the structure of your defense or in your personnel, he would find it and exploit it. It was a great challenge playing Peyton Manning. You better have a fantastic game plan and be talented as well. I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame NFL career.”
RB FRED TAYLOR (LONG-TIME COMPETITOR OF MANNING’S AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA AND IN THE NFL)
“The first time I ever met Peyton was in 1994 on our recruiting visit to FSU. Neither of us chose to attend, but that would only be the first of 20-plus meetings we would share as athletes. I’ll forever embrace the many memories we share as rivals chasing an ultimate goal. I’ve always admired Peyton on and off the field because he’s truly a consummate professional who understood what it took to be a champion from Day One in the NFL. Peyton is easily and always will be my favorite player from not only our 1998 draft, but in the history of the NFL. I’m truly excited to see him leave the game on his own terms and as a World Champion. I SALUTE YOU PM!”
TODD HELTON, LONG-TIME FRIEND, FORMER COLORADO ROCKIES ALL-STAR AND FORMER TEAMMATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
“Peyton Manning is quality in every aspect of his life: work ethic, achievement, overcoming obstacles, leadership and friendship. He does nothing half-assed. I think he is the pinnacle example of someone who does nothing halfway, and his career reflects just that.
“We have all watched his athletic ability and the understanding of the game play out on TV. It’s quite amazing at times. From someone who knows him personally, that is how he approaches everything in his life—with excellence. He deserves to be celebrated for all he has achieved during his long and illustrious career. On top of that, he is a quality, grounded, ‘good’ guy who invests in others. I wish Peyton as much success in his life post football as he has had in the past 18 years in the NFL.”
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES
“On behalf of our football program, we want to congratulate Peyton Manning on a truly remarkable career. We are so fortunate to have Peyton as an ambassador to the University of Tennessee. His name is and will always be synonymous with Tennessee. It’s really hard to put into words what he has accomplished in his career. Peyton defines excellence in every sense of the word. He was prepared for every situation and that came through meticulous work when no one was watching. He made his coaches and teammates better by pushing everyone for perfection. We talk to our players all the time about the process and that is the part Peyton never took for granted. He didn’t skip any steps on his way to building a legacy as one of the NFL’s all-time greatest players. He has impacted so many people off the field through all his charity work with the PeyBack Foundation and his summer football camp. He’s been a great resource for me and I’m honored to call him a friend. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”
ELIZABETH ELLIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PEYBACK FOUNDATION
“Throughout his entire career, Peyton has not lost sight of what is truly important—that’s giving back to the communities in which he has lived. The impact he has made and will continue to make to youth is second to none. Even though he will be done on the field, he will continue to be a role model to all.”