INDIANAPOLIS —Peyton Manning's legacy with the Indianapolis Colts is officially cemented.
The legendary quarterback on Saturday saw the unveiling of his own statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium, and on Sunday, he saw his No. 18 retired by the team, which also inducted him into its Ring of Honor.
Manning becomes the first member of the Indianapolis Colts to have his uniform number retired.
Team owner/CEO Jim Irsay told the crowd at Sunday's halftime ceremony that Manning's accomplishments, both on and off the field, "surpassed any of my dreams" when the team decided to select him No. 1 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft.
From that day until his final season with the Colts in 2011, Manning established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, leading Indianapolis to its first Super Bowl title in 2006. And by the time he retired following the 2015 season, his name was atop every meaningful statistical category for quarterbacks in the NFL record books.
"I remember talking to some season ticket holders in '97, saying, 'Well, maybe we'll take a quarterback with the first pick, and maybe it will be Peyton Manning, and maybe he will be great, and maybe this,' and those sort of things," Irsay said. "And even in my wildest imagination — I could never have imagined what this man would become to our community, on and off the field."
Manning's off-the-field impact, Irsay said, is more important than anything he ever accomplished on the field while wearing the Horseshoe.
In 1999, Manning and his wife, Ashley, established his PeyBack Foundation to "promote the future success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for children at risk." Since that time, the foundation has provided more than $13 million in grants and programs.
In Indianapolis, Manning became a regular at St. Vincent's Children Hospital, and in 2007, the facility was renamed the "Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent."
"That's only out of fairy tales that things like that happen," Irsay said.
With some of Manning's greatest teammates — guys like Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark, among others — as well as former Colts general manager Bill Polian, in attendance, Irsay then turned the crowd's attention to the south end of the stadium, where a blue cover was raised off the rafters and revealed "PEYTON MANNING 1998-11," as well as his No. 18 to the left of it, to make Sunday's gathering official.
Manning was then handed his blue Colts suit jacket reserved only for those in the Ring of Honor.
"Peyton Manning, welcome to the Ring of Honor," Irsay said. "That looks good on him. I'll tell ya — it looks really, really good."
Manning then stepped up to the mic. His comments for the fans were short, but sweet:
"Thank you to Jim Irsay and the entire Colts organization," he began. "I'm here today because of a bunch of great coaches and teammates that I was with during my time here. And a special thanks to all the great fans in Indianapolis, Ind. I came here almost 20 years ago to play quarterback and try to win a lot of football games. We accomplished those goals, and along the way, I met some of the best people in the world. I thank God every day I'm an Indianapolis Colt. Thank you very much."Manning to Wayne
Then, the Colts had one more surprise for the fans at Sunday's game.
Taking the snap from his longtime center, Saturday, Manning dropped back and fired a touchdown pass to Wayne one more time: