Colts to build statue of Peyton Manning outside Lucas Oil Stadium; retiring No. 18 jersey


Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said construction will begin on a statue of former quarterback Peyton Manning outside Lucas Oil Stadium. Irsay also announced Friday that no future Colt will wear the number 18 jersey again.

Manning flew to Indianapolis for the announcement at the Colts complex Friday.

Calling the team's journey with Peyton Manning "incredibly special in every way, shape or form...I can't say enough to what he has meant for this franchise, to this city and state. You just run out of words thinking about how much #18 means to us," Irsay said.

"This is the team that I wanted to play for. I was glad you all drafted me and I'll always be a Colt," said Manning, who said he was humbled and honored by the announcement.

Irsay got a laugh from Peyton - and reporters - as he described the vision for the statue.

"It'll be a destination spot for all of our fans, just like Jim Morrison's grave - even though it's not a grave, Peyton. It will be a destination for people to leave cans of Budweiser or notes for you....We couldn't be more excited about the statue. It's not too often you build statues of people in their lifetime. We're really excited about putting this statue outside Lucas Oil Stadium where it will stand for many years," Irsay said.

Bob Kravitz: For Manning and the Colts, closure and a perfect finishing touch

Peyton spent much of Friday's news conference reminiscing about his time with the Colts. He recalled his first visit with Jim Irsay and getting drafted.

"A lot of things were different back then. Bill Polian had red hair," he joked. 

"I can remember Colts fans - just the amount of jerseys they wore in the stadium, in the RCA Dome. More than any other stadium in the league in my opinion," said Peyton.

"I can remember the fan celebration here after we beat the Patriots in the championship game - there's nothing quite like it in downtown Indy," he said. 

He talked about the "painful losses against the Steelers and the Saints. I remember walking off the field with Reggie Wayne who was from New Orleans - two guys who just got beat by their favorite team growing up. I was glad to be there with Reggie and I was glad we bounced back after the Steelers won the Super Bowl the next year."

Peyton recalled Irsay's generosity over the years, as Irsay paid for his honeymoon flight to Mexico, his grandmother's funeral and for several players to attend Reggie Wayne's brother's funeral.

"Jim's been extremely generous to me and I'll always be indebted to you for that," Peyton said.

At times becoming emotional - notably when recalling former head coach Tony Dungy's coaching style - Peyton talked about the big and small moments with the Colts. He recalled learning Tony Dungy's expressions like "no explanations," and "no excuses," and "keeping them with me my entire career."

Most of all, he seemed humbled by Irsay's gesture, with the two exchanging a hug.

"I just can't tell you how honored and humbled I am and how much fun I had playing here for 14 years. Just thank you very much from the bottom of my heart," Manning said.

He joked with WTHR Sports Director Dave Calabro, who wished him a happy early birthday at one point, saying, "We don't have to talk about how old I'm gonna be next week. Thanks for bringing that up, Dave."



At his retirement announcement in Denver on March 7th, Peyton told Colts fans, "You can't fathom how much I enjoyed my 14 years there or the warmth that my family feels for you."

"When I was drafted by the Colts, Indianapolis was a basketball and a car-racing town. But it didn't take long for the Colts to convert the city and state of Indiana into football evangelists," he said.

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