Report: Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning breaking up

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 8:51 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2010, file photo, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, lefts, greets his brother New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning following an NFL football game. The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis is expected to end, according to a report. Citing anonymous sources, ESPN reported Tuesday, March 7, 2012, that the Colts plan to hold a news conference Wednesday to announce the long-expected decision. Manning is expected to attend.

Darron Cummings, File, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis is expected to end Wednesday, according to a report.

Citing anonymous sources, ESPN reported Tuesday that the Colts plan to hold a news conference to announce the long-expected decision. Manning and team owner Jim Irsay are expected to attend, the network said.

Colts spokesman Avis Roper said he could not confirm the decision — or that a news conference would be held Wednesday — because Irsay was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Neither Irsay nor Manning's agent, Tom Condon, responded immediately to messages left by The Associated Press.

Peyton's older brother, Cooper, told USA Today in a phone interview that he had spoken to his brother earlier Tuesday.

"He's going through kind of an emotional time right now," Cooper Manning said. "Until it was over, he was a Colt through and through."

Word of the impending breakup caught one of Manning's closest friends, longtime center Jeff Saturday, off guard. Saturday said Tuesday night that the two had not yet spoken about the apparent decision.

"I never thought it was a foregone conclusions," Saturday said. "I was always hopeful they'd get something worked out, and that he would be back in a horseshoe, but it doesn't look that's going to happen."

That's what Manning wanted, too.

He had said in the past that his goal was to play his entire career in a Colts uniform, but a damaged nerve that forced him to have neck surgery kept him out of action for all of 2011.

"I can't tell you what an honor it is to go start-to-finish with the same organization here in Indianapolis. That is something I have always wanted to do as a rookie coming out," Manning said after signing a five-year, $90 million contract in July. "Of course, you never know if that is possible, but after yesterday it is official that I will be an Indianapolis Colt for my entire career. I will not play for another team. My last down of football will be with the Colts, which means a great deal to me."

But things have changed since last summer. Now it looks like the NFL's only four-time MVP, and a former Super Bowl champion, won't be wearing No. 18 for Indy.

With a $28 million bonus payment due Thursday to Manning, his neck problems, and the fact that the Colts own the No. 1 pick in April's draft, the Colts seem to have deemed it too risky — and too pricey — to keep the longtime franchise quarterback, who will turn 36 later this month.

The twists and turns of a public debate between Manning and Irsay, who have been friends for more than a decade, created the sense the two had been fighting. Irsay twice issued statements to deny a rift.

Still, with the Colts in full rebuilding mode, Irsay has been expected by many to play for the future and let Manning try to chase a second Super Bowl ring somewhere else.

The Colts are expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in April's draft.

Manning's impending departure marks the end of a remarkably successful era that included the 2006 league title.

He started every meaningful game for 13 seasons in Indy, 227 straight including the playoffs, and took the Colts from perennial also-ran to one of the NFL's model franchises.

In the two decades pre-dating his arrival, the Colts won 116 games, one division title and made the playoffs three times. With Manning taking snaps, the Colts have won 150 games, eight division titles, two AFC championships and the franchise's first Super Bowl since moving from Baltimore in 1984.

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