UPDATED with Gov. Daniels’ statement: Peyton Manning’s departure speech shows why he and the Colts are one of a kind

by Ryan Streeter on March 7, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

I’m trying to get out the door to the Reagan Library with my family, but we couldn’t leave before watching the press conference with Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning. As devoted and loyal Colts fans, we were fighting back the tears along with the two of them as they announced Peyton’s departure.

One of the great things about being a Colts fan has been the quality of the organization. They have always put a premium on character and a love of the game. They’ve resisted recruiting guys who don’t match that standard, no matter how good they are as players. Watching Irsay and Manning, who basically grew up together at the franchise, one watches the end of a special era with both sadness and gratitude.

What a tough day for Colts fans, but what a testimony to how you should run a football team.

A personal note: My last day at the White House in 2007 was the same day the Colts were there to celebrate their Super Bowl victory with President Bush. We sat out there on the south lawn in the front row, and Peyton was kind enough to come out to my children after the formalities ended despite people calling his name from several angles. He signed their ball caps and such as they were yukking it up with some of the other players. I remember thinking as I left the White House, “Man, this is the end of an era for me, but I’m glad we’ve at least got some good years with the Colts ahead of us.”

And I’m sure we still do. But that doesn’t overshadow the unmistakable reality that and end of a truly beautiful era in Colts football is upon us.

UPDATE: Mitch Daniels just issued the following statement on Peyton’s departure: “Peyton is as great a citizen as he is a quarterback. He’s contributed in ways people can see, like his children’s hospital, but he has also done so many things that he insists no one know about. There have been countless times that he has called me when we’ve had some kind of need and said, ‘Governor, I want to help,’ and he’ll do everything but associate his name with it. We are going to miss seeing number 18 under center for the Colts, but I am happy to hear he will continue to call Indianapolis his home. It’s not a happy day.”