INDIANAPOLIS – It was a transformational career that began with this quote.
"I'm meeting Blll Polian and Jim Mora," Peyton Manning begins of his pre-draft meeting with the Colts in 1998. "Both of these guys are intimidating guys. And I am nervous. Don't get me wrong."
Nervous? You wouldn't know it by what Manning said next:
"'Look, here's the deal," Manning started. "I actually would probably like to come here, to Indianapolis. But I will say, if you don't take me, I'm going to kick your butt for the next 15 years."
If the Colts weren't sold already, they were then.
What impact did No. 18 have on the game of football?
Take a look below:
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
"Peyton Manning's extraordinary career was driven by his talent, an incredible work ethic, and an unwavering desire to be the best and ended so perfectly for him with a Super Bowl victory. Peyton's competitive fire and love of the game made him a legendary player who thrilled fans for a generation. He has served as a great representative of the NFL both on the field and in his community. We are forever grateful for Peyton's unmatched contributions to the game and know that his success will continue in the next phase of his life."
Owner Jim Irsay
"He literally transforms your organization. Peyton is just the quintessential individual. On the field, he's all about winning and winning the right way. And off the field, he cares so much and takes so much time just to help the community and everybody knows what he's done here in Indianapolis, the Children's Hospital, is just one example of so many things he's been involved with here.
One of the greats of all time. I just run out of superlatives to heap on him because honestly he is everything that you look for in a football player and an individual."
"Few have left their marks on a sport as Peyton Manning has. Simply put, he revolutionized NFL football. Peyton energized it as had no one before him, he made it more fun for our fans, and made the game better.
Off the field, Peyton has been a tremendous ambassador for the game and the epitome of someone who gives back to the community. He is the most recognizable face in the history of the NFL, and perhaps its most popular.
I will miss seeing #18 on the field on Sundays and I am proud and thankful for all he's done for the Colts, our community, and the NFL. On behalf of Colts and NFL fans worldwide, I thank Peyton and congratulate him on an incredible career."
Tony Dungy (coached Peyton from 2002-08)
"First of all, I'm really excited for Peyton. Just thrilled that he's going to go out on top with his second Super Bowl win. He's had a phenomenal career. I was blessed to be part of it for seven years. When your best player is your hardest working player, a player that is so concerned about doing the right thing, not only for the team, but in the community, it just makes it so much easier for the coach. I was blessed to have that for my seven years with him. He's one of the greatest players I've ever been around, one of the greatest players our game has known. I'm just very, very happy for him. I'm thrilled to have been his coach for seven years."
"To me, he's the greatest of all time. He's a friend of mine, and someone that I always watch and admire, because he always wants to improve, he always wants to get better, and he doesn't settle for anything less than the best."
"Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career. You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It's been an honor."
If this is it, there's one moment I won't forget. 10th grade. Louisiana. At your quarterback camp. You inspired the kid in the green shirt. You inspired me to work hard. To be disciplined. To be respectful. To take notes. You inspired me to love the process. To love the sweat. To love the tears. But most of all …You inspired me to love the game. Thanks, Peyton. If this is it, Thanks."
Bruce Arians (Peyton's quarterbacks coach from 1998-2000)
"This word GOAT got popular real soon. To me, he is. Having worked with him early in the years that he was struggling was fun. To watch him preserve through those early years, the 3-13, 15 interceptions in the first eight games or whatever, then just watch him grow and take off and become the player he's become, I think he's arguably the best that's ever played."
"I called him the piranha. I could never get him enough information whether it was about the opponent or our game plan or anything else. We had him in for a pre-draft interview in '98 and he had a notebook full of questions for us including one about Indiana tax code. I remember thinking, 'who interviewed who here?' He's an absolutely tireless worker on the fundamentals and also one of the best practical jokers in the world. I was proud to have him as a quarterback but I'm more to have him as a good friend. I wish him nothing but the best with whatever's ahead in the next chapters."
Jeff Saturday (played with Peyton from 1999-2011)
"The greatest of all-time. You go out there watch him break defenses down, make checks, make audibles, understand where the defense was, all the little things that often go unseen to the normal fan. That's what he was exceptional at. As a guy that played with him and listened to all that happen and literally watch the game change because of what he could do, watch defenses change, what defensive coordinators change the way they play you, it was just an amazing thing to be a part of."
"A complete grinder. Monday through Saturday, that was really the grind. In my estimation, that will be what he misses the most. Sunday is the showcase but Monday through Saturday that's really where the grind goes, when you hang out with your teammates and you live the true football life. It's about preparing for (Sunday). That's the part he was so exceptional at and it was so much fun to watch him go through that."
"He's a driven human being. That's what made him great. That's what kept him up. He wasn't afraid to work. And that's the difference. He wasn't driving you in any different way from driving himself. That's the part I respect the most. I've told him that face-to-face. Whatever he asked you to do, you knew he was doing at least that and most of the time much more than that. And that's what you appreciated."
Edgerrin James (played with Peyton from 1999-2005)
"Peyton Manning, the ultimate pro. The first impression when you meet Peyton Manning is how hard he works."
Gary Brackett (played with Peyton 2003-11)
"The one thing I took away from Peyton was how coachable he was. So many great players I don't think they stay coachable. They begin coachable and then they get some success and they're like, 'I know a better way.' The conversations we had offense/defense and I saw he had with coaches I was really just humbled at, 'What can I do to get better?' This is a (five-time MVP). I remember a quote saying, 'you need coaching because you can't see the picture when you are inside the frame.' The way he humbled himself and the way he led people pour into him and coach him, it's really something I use to this day."
Marlin Jackson (played with Peyton from 2005-09)
"From my approach to the game, how I studied, how I worked out, my overall attitude of being great was influenced by Peyton, by coach (Tony) Dungy, by the culture that was created inside that building. It was greatness all around you so when you have that presence around you, it only fuels your drive eternally to step up your game. That's what guys like Peyton Manning did for me."
Ryan Diem (played with Peyton from 2001-11)
"I think Peyton really changed the game. A lot of people say that but I mean at all levels. I think the way he prepared and the things he did on the field have trickled down to all levels of football. When I played high school football it was a pretty simple ordeal. It was like run right, run left, but there weren't that many plays. I think what you see high school quarterbacks doing this day and age, making those sorts of split second decisions, the reads they are making, your seeing what they are doing in college, it's truly changed the game, the level of preparation, the on the field reads and audibles. That has certainly carried over to every level."
Ben Utecht (played with Peyton from 2004-07)
"As a national speaker, I use Peyton a lot because he's the greatest student of the game I've ever been around. He's a true professional. And what I mean by that is he values his professionalism so much that he works harder than anybody else. That has an effect on the culture of a team. When your leader sets the bar so high the rest of the team strives, we scratch, we crawl, we sprint as fast as we can to try and catch up. Did nothing but make us play to our potential. Peyton makes people play to their potential. That's why, that's one of the reasons why we were so good."
Bill Polian (Colts GM from 1998-2011)
"In Indianapolis, he's an icon. His dedication, integrity and civic engagement inspired generations of new fans. Lucas Oil Stadium and Peyton Manning Children's Hospital will stand as monuments to him, well past this day."
"I sat with Peyton and the doctors when they informed him he would need a fourth operation, a spinal fusion. They could not guarantee success but they could guarantee a torturous nine-month rehab if he were to play again. I offered, if this were the end, he should have no regrets. He had given the game all he had and more. He pondered the situation for what seemed like a long time and then looked at us with that steely, determined expression we knew so well and said, 'I'm going to make it back.' He did."
"Through it all, he remains to fans and opponents alike, the ultimate field general. His 'Omaha' call at the line is as familiar as his No. 18. To those like myself, lucky to be on his side, he's the consummate teammate. A perfectionist to whom no amount of preparation was ever enough."
"He was an is the fiercest of competitors. In a pre-draft interview he said to me, 'If you draft me, I promise to bring you a championship. If you don't, I promise to come back and kick your butt.' After signing the richest rookie contract in history, he was asked what he planned to do with the money. He replied, 'I plan to earn it.'
"Today, there is only thunderous applause for a guy who made his teams and sport better by his presence."