Manning missed the entire 2011 season after neck surgery and the Colts finished that season 2-14. Indianapolis used the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to select Andrew Luck.
Manning, who eventually signed with the the Denver Broncos, and Luck have led their teams to the playoffs in each season since the transition.
"I knew it was the right thing for the Colts," Irsay said to the Indianapolis Star. "Emotionally, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. In professional football, it's about winning, and you have to be able to make the decisions that are best for the franchise."
Luck's Colts defeated Manning's Broncos 24-13 on Sunday in the AFC divisional round and now will head to the AFC Championship to take on the New England Patriots. Luck went 27-43 for 265 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game.
Manning, who threw for 211 yards and a touchdown and lost a fumble in the loss, was noncommittal about returning next season, saying, “I think I'll have to take some time to see how I feel, see how I feel physically."
- Scooby Axson