Peyton Manning walks away from the NFL as the greatest control freak of all time.

His meticulous attention to detail is what set him apart on and off the field.

The Denver Broncos star officially called it a career Monday at Dove Valley in a bizarre news conference that encapsulates almost everything that is Peyton Manning.

"There were other players who were more talented, but there was no one who could out-prepare me," Manning said near the end of his retirement speech. "Because of that, I have no regrets."

Manning was prepared Monday.

He thanked everyone from fans, teammates, coaches, front office personnel, equipment managers, media members and players around the league. He made self-deprecating jokes about losses to the Patriots and showed his dry sense of humor.

He was in total control.

When asked about allegations from 20 years ago about creating a hostile sexual environment at the University of Tennessee, a question he saw coming like a blitz, he proclaimed his innocence and said, "Like Forrest Gump said, 'That's all I have to say about that."

The room erupted in laughter. Does anyone think that isn't the response Manning had anticipated?

Let that sink in, he was asked about a sexual incident and he spun it in a way to get a laugh from the crowd.

Manning has shown in his time in Denver that he isn't a fan of surprises - think back to the first snap in the 2014 Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks.

Remember, on the night Manning set the all-time passing touchdown record he had players practice the keep-away celebration the Friday before the game.

He controls everything.

Manning's retirement came exactly four years after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. It was something Manning nonchalantly mentioned, but he was well aware of the date. This was no coincidence.

The only thing missing from the presser was Manning the pitchman. Thankfully, there were no endorsements for pizza or beer.

The anecdotal story Gary Kubiak shared about Manning's recovery from a foot injury stands out. Manning's preparation is legendary. He spends more time preparing than any other player. He is the bar that other quarterbacks are compared to. His adjustments at the line of scrimmage are second to none. He changed the game, according to former Broncos quarterback and current team president John Elway.

His work ethic during rehab was as diligent as his film study. His recovery from neck surgery alone is amazing, the foot injury could have easily been the end of Manning's story in Denver.

But Manning worked to control his legacy.

Kubiak said Manning let the Broncos coach know he was ready to return by sending him a "hey, we're No. 1" signal in a workout tape. Reading between the fingers, it's obvious the message Manning sent. Could any player in the league get away with that? Manning wasn't going to end the 2015 season as a spectator. He had worked too hard for that. That ending wasn't part of the plan.

Being labeled a control freak is often considered a bad quality. Manning makes that label fit like a glove on his throwing hand in warm weather. He has a grip on every aspect of his surroundings. That is what made him a five-time MVP and owner of so many NFL records.

As Manning's press conference closed he was asked about his proudest moment.

"This game, in my opinion, is a people business. It's a relationship business," Manning said. "It's certainly not a play on the field or a throw. It's none of that. It's moments."

Manning did a masterful job controlling those moments in every aspect of his career.

Sports Editor

Load comments