INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning will be the last Indianapolis Colts player to wear number 18.
Less than two weeks after announcing his retirement in Denver, Manning returned to his first NFL home to thank his supporters Friday afternoon.
Team owner Jim Irsay announced that “with profound appreciation,” the Colts will retire Manning’s jersey. The ceremony took place in the same room that an emotional Irsay announced four years ago the Colts would release their star quarterback.
Before 1998, the Colts had experienced little success since the team’s relocation from Baltimore 14 years earlier.
That changed after the Colts drafted Manning with the first pick in the ‘98 draft. And over the next 13 seasons, the quarterback out of Tennessee led the team to 141 wins, two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl win.
So, in light of Manning’s retirement after four seasons with the Denver Broncos and another NFL championship, Irsay laid out how the Colts plan to honor Manning’s legacy.
In addition to retiring Manning’s jersey, the Colts will erect a statue in front of Lucas Oil Stadium. "It will be a destination," Irsay said, although no timetable was provided for when that project might be complete.
Manning then took his opportunity at the microphone to note it was his first visit to the Colts training facility since he left for Denver four years ago, then proceeded on a trip down memory lane.
“You know, the very first preseason game, my very first pass, I threw a five-yard touchdown pass, and Marvin Harrison ran 48 yards for a touchdown,” Manning said. “I remember thinking this NFL is easy; you just throw a short pass to Marvin Harrison and he runs for touchdowns.”
Manning's personality, success and off-the-field contributions are widely credited with helping to generate general public support for building Lucas Oil Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl in February 2012.
But that's only part of Manning's legacy in Indy.
Through his Peyback Foundation, Manning hosted high school football games, provided Thanksgiving meals for low-income families and held Christmas parties for children in need.
Manning's greatest reward may have come seven months after he brought Indianapolis its first major championship since the early 1970s when a local children's hospital was renamed Peyton Manning's Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.
After signing with the Broncos in 2012, Manning said Indy would always hold a special place in his heart and that he would come back to the city often. But on Friday, Manning wanted one more chance to say goodbye to the team and the fans who first welcomed him into the league.
This article is by WFYI News' Christopher Ayers and The Associated Press.