Peyton Manning says nothing is going to overshadow this “joyous day,” especially not something that happened decades ago. In a new lawsuit filed last month that claimed a hostile work environment for women at the University of Tennessee, Manning was cited for his alleged harassment of a female trainer in 1996.
“It is sad that some people don’t understand the truth and facts. I did not do what is alleged,” Manning said. “I’m not interested in re-litigating something that happened when I was 19. … Like Forrest Gump said, ‘That’s all I have to say about that.'”
Peyton Manning started off his retirement remarks talking about another gunslinger, former Baltimore Colts star Johnny Unitas.
Manning talked about the struggles of his rookie season, when Indianapolis went to Baltimore – the Colts former home – and lost. Unitas shook his hand after the game and told Manning he was rooting for him.
Manning said that the words of Unitas, who died in 2002, stayed with him.
“I hope he knows that I stayed at it, and I hope he’s a little proud of me,” Manning said is starting off his retirement comments.
Peyton Manning’s voice cracked as he reminisced about his 18-year NFL career. He noted that he still owns the NFL record for 28 interceptions as a rookie and says, “Every year I pull for a rookie to break that record.”
He said little brother Eli might have broken it had he started all 16 games his rookie year. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak says he’s only coached Peyton Manning for nine months “but I’ll remember it for a lifetime.”
Speaking after executive John Elway paid tribute to Manning’s four seasons in Denver, Kubiak said he’s spent 17 seasons trying to beat Manning and he “wasn’t very successful.”
He also told a story about how he had several private meetings with Manning after Week 9 as he came back from injury. The two worked together to make sure Manning’s presence helped the team and didn’t cause any disruptions.
Team president Joe Ellis calls it a “historic day for the Denver Broncos and the National Football League.” Ellis says Manning made the team, organization and the community better. Broncos executive VP John Elway has now taken the podium to talk about Manning.
“I know this is a tough day for him,” Elway said.
There are former teammates such as John Lynch, Jeff Saturday and Brandon Stokley. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are chatting with Manning’s wife and children.
Sitting in the front row are Manning’s parents, Archie and Olivia, along with his brother, Cooper. Also, on hand is Bennie Fowler, who caught Manning’s last pass on a 2-point conversion to cap Denver’s 24-10 win over Carolina a month ago in Super Bowl 50.
Peyton Manning is going to miss quite a bit about football. Here are some he listed during his retirement news conference:
– Steak dinners at a place in Indianapolis after wins.
– Battles against players such as John Lynch and Troy Polamalu (to name a few).
– Going against coaches like Bill Belichick and Jeff Fisher, Rex Ryan (again, to name a few)
– Figuring out blitzes with longtime center Jeff Saturday.
– Demaryius Thomas constantly telling Manning he loved him and thanking Manning for coming to town each time he caught a TD pass.
– Handshakes with Tom Brady
– The fans, even those in Foxborough and, “they sure should miss me, because they sure did get a lot of wins off me.”