On this date back in 2016, one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks of all time stepped away from the game.
After a stellar career at the University of Tennessee that saw Peyton Manning excel in nearly every conceivable way, the Indianapolis Colts selected Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. It was not a shock to see Manning selected with the first pick but there were some pre-draft discussions as to whether the Colts should take Manning or Ryan Leaf. His rookie season saw Manning set NFL rookie records and prove to be one of the bright spots in a disappointing 3-13 season for the Colts.
Manning would help lead the biggest turnaround in NFL history when the Colts went from 3-13 to 13-3 in just one season. He earned his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors after passing for over 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns en route to leading the Colts to a playoffs appearance.
The Colts superstar would pass for over 4,000 yards in the next five seasons, with multiple Pro Bowl seasons and an MVP award. However, Manning and the Colts always seemed to struggle in the playoffs, particularly against the New England Patriots, which became a focal point of discussions regarding Manning and his legacy.
Manning would finally erase those claims of "he could never win the big one" in 2006 as the Colts would win Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears. Not only did Manning finally capture the Lombardi Trophy, but he also helped lead Indianapolis to the greatest comeback in conference championship history by erasing a 21-3 deficit against the rival Patriots.
The Colts and Manning would continue to enjoy regular season success and managed to make it to another Super Bowl but ultimately, Manning's time with the team came to an end following the 2011 NFL season. Manning had undergone neck surgery and there were major questions as to whether Manning could return to form or return to football at all.
The team drafted Andrew Luck and shook up their front office and coaching staff to signify the team was rebuilding following Manning's storied Colts career. Despite the Colts releasing him, Manning didn't stay out of work long as the Denver Broncos eventually signed Manning in 2012.
With the Broncos, Manning showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, including a record-setting season in 2013. Manning would toss 55 touchdowns and throw for an NFL record 5,477 yards. The Broncos would make it to the Super Bowl but were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks.
The Broncos continued to enjoy being one of the league's best teams with Manning at the helm and made it to Super Bowl 50. The Broncos defense excelled at limiting Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers offense, paving the way for Manning to collect his second Super Bowl win.
Following the win, Manning decided it was best to retire on top.
"There's something about 18 years, 18 is a good number, and today I retire from professional football," Manning said. (via NFL.com)
Manning helped revolutionize the no-huddle offense and will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He finished his career with 14 Pro Bowls, 5 NFL MVP Awards and 2 Super Bowl wins.