As you announced your retirement this past week, I cannot help but be stricken by sadness. After 18 incredible seasons of play, it is hard to even imagine the NFL without you there on the field. You brought so much excitement and passion to the game, and forever helped to shape football. Seriously, it has been the biggest and best honor to grow up watching you play football. And I did just that, I grew up as a kid watching you play for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. You helped to instill this love of the game inside me and that's something I will forever be grateful for. I rooted for you more than I have ever rooted for anyone else in my life! I wanted nothing more than for you to succeed in every game you played, and boy did you do just that. When taking a look back at your epic career, it is hard not to say that you are easily one of the greatest players to ever grace football and the NFL.
I honestly don't even know where to begin when I take a look back on your greatest achievements. With two Super Bowl victories, four AFC championships, a five time NFL MVP (the most for anyone), 14 Pro Bowl appearances and more records than I can even begin to count, it's no wonder that you can be considered one of the best players of all time. It's not everyday that someone with this type of talent and power comes along. You made football magic, and gave us so many memories we shall never forget. Not only are you retiring on top with the win in the 50th Super Bowl, but you also leave us holding the record for the the NFL’s most career passing touchdown record (539 passes) and the NFL’s most career passing yards (71,940 yards) just to name a few. How can we not be in awe of your sheer talent? Thank you for giving up something so incredible.
However, it was more than just your talent on the field that made you a star. Your personality, class and charisma shined brighter than anything else. We never had to worry about finding you wrapped up in a scandal or a bar fight; we could always count on you to be professional. You had class in every interview and speech you made. I honestly bet everyone loved you (even those Patriots fans) and no one can deny that you were a true athlete. The way you touched your fans, the cities you played for and all the people around you is truly remarkable. The Indianapolis Colts would be nothing today if it was not for presence. We all joke that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is “the house that Peyton’s built,” but it honestly is. You touched that city in a way no other person ever will. You also left your mark on Denver, and we never once doubted that you would not get that second Super Bowl victory.
Peyton, you gave us everything we could have wanted and more. It is a storybook ending: 18 remarkable seasons all while sporting that number 18 on your back for every game and wrapping it up with a victory in the 50th Super Bowl. You cannot honestly write a story more perfect. Thank you for all the memories, Peyton. This is such an emotional goodbye, but we will treasure every memory you gave us though the years. Football is never going to quite be the same again. We love you Peyton, and we wish you the best of luck. Thank you for everything and more.