Past, Present Colts React To Peyton Manning Retiring

Jeff Saturday, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne among those former teammates who offer tributes to future Hall of Fame quarterback.

The Indianapolis Colts issued these tribute quotes Monday from many closely connected to quarterback Peyton Manning, who announced his retirement Monday after 18 years in the NFL.

Jim Irsay, Colts Owner & CEO

“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 its 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.”

Jeff Saturday, former Colts center

“It’s been an honor to have spent my career with one of the greatest, if not the greatest to have played the game. I cherish the amazing years we had together with the Colts, which included a Super Bowl XLI Championship. Peyton is not only my teammate, but a great friend. The impact he had on the NFL is unparalleled. He displayed the perfect example of the way the game is supposed to be played and he’s the definition of a professional. I congratulate him on a phenomenal career.”

Reggie Wayne, former Colts wide receiver

“18…Congratulations on an outstanding career. I appreciate the hard work and dedication you displayed along our journey. The memories we share as a team will never be forgotten. Now you can chill, breathe and enjoy you a nice cold adult beverage. Wishing you the absolute best in your future endeavors.”

Edgerrin James, former Colts running back

“Playing with Peyton was an incredible experience. You play the game, but you’ve never seen someone that gave their all to the game until you met Peyton Manning. Once you’re around him you see how serious the game is and what it means to a person. That’s the one thing that separated him from most players. Some play football and it’s just a game, but to Peyton it was life. From my first year in Indy to now you see how he’s evolved into the greatest player ever. It’s that work ethic and non-stop commitment to his craft that has him where he is.”

Tarik Glenn, former Colts offensive tackle

"Peyton is a good friend and teammate. It was an honor to see him grow into one of the greatest of all time. He was not only a rare talent, he also was a hard worker. What has made his legacy great is not just his accolades and his rings, it is that throughout the years, he has earned the respect of his family, teammates, opponents, coaches and fans."

Ryan Diem, former Colts offensive tackle

“I couldn't be happier for Peyton and his family. To watch him resurrect this season and ride off a champion was truly special. It speaks to the kind of person he is, and was a perfect way to cap off an incredible career. He faced all kinds of adversity and persevered. The 11 years that I spent with the Colts were transformative in many ways because of teammates like Peyton. I witnessed the core leadership of our team grow within the locker room and within their own families. I witnessed a town and fan base grow and support our team with pride. I saw young men become engaged in the community. Peyton exemplified all these traits. His involvement in the Indy community is well documented, but there are so many other things he did under the radar that were even more meaningful. It was an honor for me to be a part of this team, and a part of Peyton's career. Congrats 18 - you are the GOAT!”

Dallas Clark, former Colts tight end

“Peyton is a true pro! He represented the Colts, Broncos and NFL with great respect and honor. His passion, love and competitiveness was 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!”

Donald Brown, former Colts running back

“Peyton is a consummate pro. After watching the way he prepares week in and week out, it is no surprise he was able to play at such an elite level for his entire career. It was an absolute honor and privilege being his teammate.”

Dwight Freeney, former Colts defensive end and current Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker

“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!!”

David Thornton, former Colts linebacker

“For me to be able to play with him for four years and then compete against him for five years, as a teammate to service captain with him, that was an honor, that was a special treat. I had a great deal of respect of just watching how he prepared himself as a professional. That was something that I really kept under my bill as a professional. The unique thing about him in the locker room, Peyton made other guys around him better. Several times I would hear the o-line say, ‘Hey, we got to make sure we keep 18 clean today.’ Even on the defensive side of the ball, you knew if Peyton was going to score points, ‘Hey, we got to go out there and get a three-and-out.’ That’s the mark of a good leader when you’re able to help those around you elevate their game. That’s something that I would like to think that he was able to do here for a number of years. Going to Nashville and playing against him, that was tough. It’s one thing to be with him, but to compete against him, I think my level of respect went up even more just to see how precise he was with that football and just the decisions he made in certain situations. It’s probably going to be unmatched for someone at that position.”

Gary Brackett, former Colts linebacker

“We played together for nine seasons, was a co-captain for six of those years, so we had a lot of one-on-one conversations throughout that time. Just really the knowledge, the wisdom and his work ethic is something that was contagious. It was almost Reggie (Wayne), himself, Dwight Freeney, who was going to get here first and who was going to leave here last. That’s the kind of makeup that the team had. We were just going to outwork folks. It was just contagious about him being relentless about film study and just always grabbing me, asking me a question about a defense or when we were going against each other. We always would say, ‘We don’t play each other on the roster during the regular season.’ During practice when we’d do something that’s out of the ordinary or I picked up one of his signals, he would ask me like, ‘Hey, how did you see that?’ Then I would walk him through, ‘Hey, because this guy pulled around this way and that kind of took me away from this.’ Then they would adjust in the game plan, and that’s how we had a very successful team.”

Adam Vinatieri, Colts kicker

“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to play with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Peyton epitomizes professionalism and he prepared week in and week out at the highest level. He is one of the greatest leaders I’ve had the chance to share a locker room with. I congratulate him on a tremendous career and wish him the best.”

Pat McAfee, Colts punter

“Peyton Manning was the consummate professional. It’s a cliché but it’s true, he was the first one in the building and the last one out. He was a friend to everyone he encountered. A superstar with the humility of a blue-collared mill worker. It was a true honor to be his teammate for three years. Watching him work, both on the field and in the community, inspired me to become the absolute best human I could be. Thanks for everything big fella and congrats on 18 incredible years. Good luck with whatever profession you decide to dominate next.”

Joe Reitz, Colts offensive lineman

“It was an honor to get to play with Peyton. He was the ultimate competitor and teammate. As a kid, I grew up watching him and the Colts and then I had the privilege of being in Indy with him for two years. I’ll always respect the way he approached the game, but also as a man and the lasting impact he has left in this great community!”

Tony Dungy, former Colts head coach

“First of all I’m really excited for Peyton. Just thrilled that he’s going to go out on top, with his second Super Bowl win. He’s had a phenomenal career. I was blessed to be part of it for seven years. When your best player is your hardest working player. A player that is so concerned about doing the right thing, not only for the team but in the community. It just makes it so much easier for the coach. I was blessed to have that for my seven years with him. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever been around, one of the greatest players our game has known. I’m just very, very happy for him. I’m thrilled to have been his coach for seven years.”

Jim Caldwell, former Colts head coach, current Detroit Lions head coach

“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.”

Bruce Arians, former Colts quarterbacks coach & offensive coordinator, current Arizona Cardinals head coach

“I called him the piranha. I could never get him enough information, whether it was about the opponent or our game plan 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 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.”

Clyde Christensen, former Colts offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach, current Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator

“I’m extremely happy for Peyton today. A fitting storybook ending to a storybook career. I’ve always said that everyone in all walks of life should have an opportunity to be around Peyton and see how he works, how he approaches things and how he leads people. It’s been a privilege to have had a front row seat for 14 years of that journey, and to know what he’s fought through physically and mentally to play at the highest level week after week, year after year. It’s been amazing to watch. May God continue to bless Peyton and his sweet family.”

Tom Moore, former Colts offensive coordinator & senior offensive assistant, current Arizona Cardinals assistant head coach/offense

“Peyton Manning will go down as the as one of the greatest – and arguably THE greatest – ever to play the position of quarterback in the National Football League. It was an honor and privilege to have coached him. As great as he was – and in my mind he was the greatest – the biggest thing he had going for him was how he elevated everyone around him. He made the team better, he made every player better, and speaking from personal experience he made coaches better. I know he did for me. I wish him nothing but the best because he deserves it.”

Pete Ward, Colts Chief Operating Officer

“Peyton was a fan-making machine for us and football in general. Success aside, he was so entertaining and remarkable in so many ways. You didn’t want to miss a single play.”

Bob Lamey, Colts radio play-by-play voice

“When I think about Peyton Manning, I think about the most competitive person I’ve ever been around on and off the field. He is driven to be the best he can possibly be every day of his life. He is a winner, a competitor, and a friend at the same time. I can’t wait to see him in Canton. I’ll always think about the things he has done for the team, the city, the state and most of all, the fans.”

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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