One of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game hung up his cleats today as Peyton Manning retired after 18 incredible seasons.
Manning changed the NFL forever, and had a profound impact on a number of Chargers.
General Manager Tom Telesco began his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts as an area scout in 1998, coinciding Manning's arrival. They spent the next 14 seasons together, winning 132 regular season games including an NFL record for wins in a decade (115 from 2000-09). The Colts captured eight division titles and had 11 playoff appearances over their tenure, highlighted by a victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
"It was a pleasure working with Peyton for 15 years," he said. "He's the best teammate I've ever been around and made everyone in the organization better through his talent, dedication, and passion for preparation."
Meanwhile, Head Coach Mike McCoy served as Manning's offensive coordinator in Denver in 2012 before joining the Chargers in 2013. Denver won 13 games that season, which was the second most in franchise history, as Manning threw for a then-team record 37 touchdown passes.
"I was very fortunate to coach Peyton Manning," McCoy said. "He is one of the best of all time. What he has done for the NFL and the quarterback position is second to none. It was great coaching him, but there was nothing like playing against him. In our profession, you always want to play against the best, and that was Peyton. So it was special to play against him twice a year the past few seasons, and also a playoff game. The league is going to miss him. He's a special player and a special talent. The game is what it is today because of players like him."
One of the fiercest competitors in the NFL, Philip Rivers relished squaring off against Manning over the years. Two of the most memorable playoff wins in Chargers history came against Manning, with Billy Volek securing a 28-24 win in 2007 after number 17 suffered an injury. One year later, the Chargers upset the Colts with a 23-17 overtime victory at Qualcomm Stadium in the Wild Card round. Rivers welcomed the challenge of facing "The Sherriff" twice a year after Manning joined the Broncos in 2012.
"Peyton Manning will always be one of my all-time favorites," he said. "It was very special to compete against him over the years. I wish him all the best moving forward."