Larry Bird statement on Peyton Manning

March 7, 2012

The Indianapolis Colts today elected not to exercise the contract option on 11-time NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning.

“Today is a very difficult day for every Colts fan,” said Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. “Peyton Manning has meant so much to the organization, the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and to Colts fans worldwide. “

Manning joined the Colts as the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. In 2007, he led the Colts to a World Championship in Super Bowl XLI. During his career with the Colts, Manning completed 4,682 passes for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns in setting virtually every Colts passing record.

“Peyton Manning is the best professional athlete to ever play in Indianapolis, truly a one-of-a-kind player, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime player,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “Being a small market, having a player like him come here and do what he did on and off the field is remarkable.”

After a 3-13 rookie season, Manning helped the Colts produce a 10-game turnaround in 1999 on the way to the AFC East title. It marked then the best one-season improvement in NFL history.

Manning’s success wasn’t limited to the field. In 1999, he created The PeyBack Foundation to support youth-based organizations in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana through grants and programs.

“This city and this state are fortunate to have had athletes like Peyton, Reggie Miller and Tamika Catchings come here, play as long as they did here, have success here and do as much in the community as they did on the field or the court,” said Bird.