Star quarterback Peyton Manning makes emotional exit from Colts
March 7, 2012 -- Updated 2007 GMT (0407 HKT)
Quarterback Peyton Manning in action for the Indianapolis Colts against the New York Jets.
- Star quarterback Peyton Manning leaves Indianapolis Colts
- Manning played 14 years with the Colts helping them to the Super Bowl in 2007
- Colts would have been due to pay him $28 million had he stayed
- Manning missed last season through injury as Colts went 2-14
(CNN) -- Peyton Manning parted company with the Indianapolis Colts Wednesday after a glittering 14-year career at the NFL franchise.
The 35-year-old quarterback helped the Colts to the Super Bowl title in 2007 and is a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player.
The decision frees the Colts from a $28 million bonus payment that would have been due to Manning this week had they exercised their option for the remaining four years on his contract.
Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay appeared at an emotional press conference to confirm the news that was widely expected.
"This has not been easy for Jim and it certainly has not been easy for me," said Manning. "Jim and I have always been close ... he's always been good to me.
Blog: What next for Peyton Manning after Colts departure?
Peyton Manning: 'Nothing lasts forever'
"This town and this team mean so much to me. It truly has been an honor to play for Indianapolis.
"I will leave the Colts with nothing but good thoughts and gratitude to Jim, the organization, my teammates the media and, especially, the fans."
Manning missed all of last season after four operations for a damaged vertebrae in his neck, the Colts going 2-14, the worst season in their history.
But he has been given the all-clear to return to the NFL and resume his career in 2012 and has been training at Duke University.
Irsay has decided to look to the future to rebuild his team, but is full of admiration for the departing Manning.
"It's been very difficult and just tearing at our hearts to try to look at the situation and find the best solution," Irsay said.
"As difficult as this day is, it's made difficult because of the greatness and the things Peyton has done for our city, for our state, for our franchise. There will be no other Peyton Manning."
Their last-place finish will mean the Colts get first selection in next month's NFL draft. They are expected to take top U.S. collegiate quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford.
Manning, who will become a much sought free agent, took the Colts to the playoffs 11 times and to two Super Bowls, winning in 2007 and losing to New Orleans at Miami in 2010.
Colts fans have voiced their opinions about Manning's anticipated departure.
"I'm disgusted. Manning is who Indianapolis is, he's our identity and what he's done for the community. He's more than a football player," Bob Nellish told CNN affiliate WTHR-TV.
"I wouldn't be nearly as big a fan without him," WTHR quoted fan Aly Wiggs as saying.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1138 GMT (1938 HKT)
Click through our gallery of the most dramatic moments from the world of sport.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0404 GMT (1204 HKT)
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
January 20, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.