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The Indianapolis Colts Release Peyton Manning

Manning ends, “And as I go, I go with just a few words that I have to say, a few words that I want to address to Colts fans everywhere: thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

In an emotional press conference this morning, Wednesday, March 7, the owner of Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, announced that they will release Peyton Manning—their four-time MVP quarterback of 14 years—if he is healthy for the 2012 season.

In the press conference, Peyton Manning said,

“I’ve been a colt for almost all of my adult life, but I guess in life and in sports we all know that nothing lasts forever… I’ve always enjoyed having played for such a great team. I will leave the colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude…and I’ve truly been blessed. I’ve been blessed to play here; I’ve been blessed to be in the NFL. And as I go, I go with just a few words that I have to say, a few words that I want to address Colts fans everywhere, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”

The news—that now leaves Manning a free agent—comes after months of uncertainty regarding Manning’s future due to his neck injuries and multiple neck surgeries—the most recent being a fusion of two vertebrae. Since his last surgery, Manning has been cleared to resume his career playing in the NFL, and, in the last couple of weeks, he has been throwing the ball again and has even geared up in his helmet and pads for a throwing practice.

Without Manning, the Colts finished off the 2011 season 2-14, the worst they’ve played in years. Irsay disclosed that they are now in a state of rebuilding and redefining the organization without their MVP quarterback. In the conference Irsay added, “I want to see him come back and play great, no question about it.” The Colts also announced Wednesday that Manning will be the last Colt to wear the No. 18, as they will be retiring his jersey.

While Manning’s future in the NFL is uncertain, there are several rumored teams who may have an interest in the quarterback, including the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and the New York Jets. Manning’s impressive statistics include more than 50,000 passing yards, more than 350 touchdown tosses, and more than 200 starts in a row.

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