Peyton Manning Retires – Ryan Share’s His Favorite Moment
On Monday afternoon, Peyton Manning capped 18 years of playing professional football by announcing his retirement. For Colts fans like myself, the 14 years he spent in Indianapolis created a ton of lasting memories, but there is one in particular that will always stick with me.
I assume many people would look to the comeback win over Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football back in 2003 when Manning led the team to 21 unanswered points in the final four minutes to force overtime, and ultimately win the game, as one moment when you just said, "Wow. This guy is something special."
You could also look at the 2006 AFC Championship Game where he led the team back against the Patriots to advance to his first Super Bowl as another.
Both are without a doubt great choices, but neither are the one that tops my list.
My favorite memory took place two weeks after that AFC Championship Game when Peyton and company went to Miami and beat the Chicago Bears to win Super Bowl 41.
Despite a rough start which saw the game's opening kickoff returned for a touchdown by the Bears, and an early interception thrown by Manning, the team righted the ship behind a strong running attack and a lock-down defense in the pouring rain. Manning would end the day with 25 completions on 38 attempts for 247 yards with one touchdown and the aforementioned interception, a performance most quarterback's would be thrilled with, but an otherwise mediocre performance for Manning who routinely threw for over 300, and in some cases, 400 yards per game, over the course of that season.
From a fan's perspective, that win ended all the heartbreak of previous years where we sat week after week, season after season, watching Manning and his teammates set records for most consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins, most consecutive division title wins, only to have so many of those seasons end in the first or second round of the playoffs.
I'm not suggesting the win was bigger for the fans than it was the players, but as any fan of any team feels, when you invest so much time and money (tickets, jerseys, general team merchandise, etc.) into a team, you start to feel as though you too are part of that team. You revel in the highs, and suffer through the lows. The high of that Super Bowl win wiped away every single low that preceded it.
And it may have never happened if it hadn't been for number 18.
It will be really odd to watch football on Sundays and not see a game or a highlight with Manning in it, but as they say, "all good things must come to an end", although in Manning's case, I think it would be appropriate to tweak the wording of that to say, "all great things must come to an end." Few were as good as Manning was, and as a fan it was pleasure to watch.