DENVER — At halftime on Sunday, Peyton Manning will become the 35th individual to have his name unveiled in the Broncos' Ring of Fame.
It's a select group, one that honors 60 years of history and the contributions of the franchise's most impactful contributors.
Years ago, before Manning ever signed with the Broncos, pieced together a dominant four-year stint, won a world championship or was elected to the team's Ring of Fame, he would stare up at the Ring of Fame as a visiting player.
During the Colts' trips to Denver, Manning would take note of the players whose names wrapped around the inner facade of the stadium.
"Every time I played here with the Colts, I was always looking up," Manning said Sunday. "There's a lot of Ring of Famers up there. It tells you how many great players they've had here. … Tom Jackson, Craig Morton."
On Sunday, Manning joined the ranks of that fraternity as he unveiled his Ring of Fame pillar and accepted his orange Ring of Fame jacket.
After missing the entire 2011 season with injury, Manning's arrival in Denver was about more than finding great success. While he certainly played at a high level — Manning won MVP honors and set the single-season passing touchdown mark in 2013 and led the team to two Super Bowl appearances — he also regained his appreciation for the game.
"Football wasn't a lot of fun that year," Manning said of 2011. "And then I get released by the Colts and I knew [former Broncos head coach] John Fox, I knew [President of Football Operations] John Elway, and I wanted to go somewhere to visit where I was comfortable, that I knew the people, because I remember John Elway and I had a long talk and he knew how I felt. It was really a shock to me on what was going on. That was the reason I came for my visit here the first time, and when I got here, heard about John's vision, heard about what Coach Fox kind of had in store for the draft coming up, it just kind of got Denver on my radar very early. A couple weeks later, [I] made the decision to come here. Best decision I ever made. Football was fun again. It was fun to get back into an NFL team and Coach Fox and just his positive attitude made football fun again for me."
As Manning enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of success in Denver, he made an indelible impact on the Broncos' organization. And this weekend, Manning joined a select group of players who have been inducted into multiple Ring of Fames/Honor.
"I am extremely honored to have been a part of two organizations, to be a part of two world champion teams and two different organizations," Manning said. "It's a great honor to me. The Bowlen family, John Elway, John Fox — they were awesome in the whole process. Everything they told me they were going to do, they did. That's not always the case when you're recruiting somebody. And like I said, Broncos Country has been awesome."
Ahead of the Broncos' matchup with the Washington Football Team, Manning received the chance to reflect on all that made his time in Denver memorable.
"It's a great honor and this week has really been a time to reflect on my four years in Denver," Manning said. "Canton was awesome, but you think about your time in Tennesssee and Indianapolis. This week has been all about remembering my four years in Denver and kind of how it all came about. It was quite an ordeal — that free agency, that kind of frenzy, if you will. It was so nice to make a decision, come out here, get settled and go back to work.
"… I couldn't have made a better decision. It was an awesome four-year run."