Will former Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning wind up playing for the Miami Dolphins?
Who knows … but a private jet carrying the future Hall of Fame quarterback landed in South Florida on Wednesday afternoon according to CBS 4 in Miami.
Manning – our “Athlete of the Decade” for the 2000s – was released by the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday after 12 years with the team.
“”This is difficult because of the things Peyton has done for our city, our state and our franchise,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. “There will be no other Peyton Manning.”
That’s for sure.
Manning has been the Colts’ quarterback dating all the way back to 1998 – starting every game since then with the exception of the 2011 season, which he missed in its entirety after undergoing major surgery on his neck. Over his career in Indy he’s won a Super Bowl, four MVP awards and reached 4,000 completions and 50,000 yards faster than any quarterback in NFL history.
“I’ll always be a Colt. That’ll never change,” Manning said at a press conference announcing his release.
Irsay also said that Manning’s No. 18 jersey “will never be worn again by a Colt on the field.”
The Colts signed Manning to a 5-year $90 million contract last July – two months after he underwent surgery on his neck. Manning’s neck problems persisted, though, and last September he was forced to undergo a second, more invasive surgical procedure which sidelined him for the entire year.
Aside from his rookie season in 1998, the Colts won at least 10 games in each season with Manning running their offense. Without him? They went 2-14 – although that mark will enable the franchise to draft former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Manning, who turns 36 this month, is coveted by numerous teams including Miami – whose owner Stephen Ross has made it clear that he intends to aggressively pursue the former University of Tennessee star.
Other suitors with money to burn? The Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos, just to name a few.
“I haven’t thought about where I’ll play yet but I have thought about where I’ve been,” an emotional Manning said at his press conference Wednesday. “I’ve been blessed.”
“As I go, I go with just a few words left to say … a few words I want to address to Colts fans everywhere,” Manning continued, choking up. “Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart – I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.”