After spending the first 13 years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning underwent multiple neck surgeries, giving him an uncertain future in the NFL.
The Colts selected Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the draft after Manning sat out an entire season. Indy then released Manning, allowing him to pick his next team via free agency.
Manning picked the Denver Broncos.
“Coming to Denver was an anxious period of time coming off an injury, learning new teammates, new coaches — a lot of the same things Tom Brady is having to go through right now,” Manning said during a Zoom press conference on Feb. 7. “I was nervous.
“I didn’t know how it was going to play out, but Denver and the Broncos organization — John Elway, John Fox, Mr. [Pat] Bowlen. I remember having a couple conversations with him that first year even though his health was declining. Everybody made me feel welcomed and that was really helpful in that transition period into the second chapter of my football career. I felt really lucky to play four wonderful years there and be a part of another championship team.”
Manning helped the Broncos reach two Super Bowls and he retired in 2016 after defeating the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.
Although he looks back fondly on his time in Denver, Manning admitted that he had hoped to play his whole career for one team.
“I always wanted to play for the team that drafted me,” Manning said. “I think every player should shoot for that goal, but not many get to do it. John Elway got to do it, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino and my brother Eli got to do it. Things happen and injuries come into play and you have to find somewhere else to play. Denver was the best place for me. I’m really proud of my time there with the Denver Broncos.”