DENVER -- No detail was too small for Peyton Manning. When he arrived in Denver, saddled by speculation that he was finished because of neck surgery, Manning remained determined to write additional chapters to one of the NFL's greatest stories.
All he did was author four seasons worthy of a Disney movie. He shattered records, broke opponents' hearts and walked off as a champion, the first quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl with two different teams before Tom Brady joined him last February.
Manning carved his legacy with the Colts, but Manning cemented it with the Broncos.
Wednesday, he was elected to the franchise's Ring of Fame, the 35th member of the exclusive club of all-time Broncos greats.
"I’m incredibly honored to be named to the Broncos Ring of Fame. Having been on the field when other members of the Ring of Fame have been inducted, you can tell what a special fraternity it is and how excited they are to join such a distinguished group. From Floyd Little to Karl Mecklenburg to Steve Atwater to many others, I’ve always looked up at the names around the stadium and admired the great players the Broncos have had over the years. I’m very humbled to now join them as a Ring of Famer," Manning wrote in a statement.
“When I came to Denver back in 2012, it was exactly how I thought it would be—a franchise with a winning tradition and incredible fan support in a great community. There were a lot of unknowns coming off an injury with a new team. Once I got my confidence, we went on a heckuva run and never looked back. That’s a credit to the many great teammates and coaches I had during my time with the Broncos. The chemistry with D.T. (Demaryius Thomas), Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and all those guys on offense was special. Winning the Super Bowl in 2015, we had an all-time defense and a really fun group with Von (Miller), Aqib (Talib), DeMarcus (Ware) and some other outstanding players. It ended up being a great decision to come here not only to play for the Broncos but to be part of this special community. Denver is a destination city. Our family is proud to call Denver our home and live in this community even after football. I’m very appreciative and grateful for my time with the Broncos. It’s a tremendous honor to be named to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame.”
Manning's worth has only amplified in his absence. The Broncos have not reached the playoffs since he retired, and have started 10 different quarterbacks.
"He was the Sheriff," former Broncos Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward explained. "Enough said."
Added Von Miller, who should join Manning in the Ring of Fame and Canton once his career concludes. "His competitive nature drove his passion to really figure things out, to never leave any stone unturned. That's just Peyton. Peyton is Peyton. There will never be another Peyton Manning."
The Broncos own a 23-41 record without Manning, the first team in NFL history to miss the postseason five consecutive years after winning the title. During the regular season, Manning posted a 45-12 mark in Denver, winning four AFC West titles, advancing to a pair of Super Bowls, while setting a record for consecutive division road wins. He is fourth Ring of Famer to play four years in Denver, the minimum for eligibility, joining Frank Tripucka, Charley Johnson and John Lynch. Other candidates who received significant discussion for the Ring of Fame were tight end Riley Odoms, linebacker Al Wilson, safety Steve Foley and Trevor Pryce.
Two-time Super Bowl champion coach Mike Shanahan will go into Ring of Fame on Oct. 17 vs. the Raiders, and Manning will enter on Oct. 31 vs. Washington.
Manning will always be known for two things in Denver: his 2013 season and his triumphant exit.
In 2013, Manning set the NFL single-season record with 55 touchdown passes, beginning on opening night with seven in a rout of the defending-champion Ravens. In his final season with the Broncos, he struggled with clumsy performances and uncharacteristic interceptions. He finally left the lineup late in the season against the Chiefs after suffering plantar fasciitis his foot. Backup Brock Osweiler went 5-2 in his absence, but ugly losses to the Raiders and Steelers created concerns about the team's postseason viability.
In the final regular season game, with homefield advantage in the playoffs at stake, Osweiler and the offense fizzled with five turnovers.
Something was missing -- Manning, the only five-time MVP in NFL history.
He jogged onto the field straight from central casting.
"The first thing he said in the huddle was no more (bleeping) excuses," running back C.J. Anderson recalled. "That just set us straight right there. It was time to get our (bleep) together."
On the first play, Manning called an audible -- something missing throughout the game. The Chargers were expecting a run, but Manning guided the play into the opposite direction.
"I knew right then that we were going to be fine," tackle Ryan Harris said.
The Broncos won, then Manning found the blueprint for the postseason. Make a couple of big plays -- and protect the football. It led to wins over the Steelers and Patriots, setting up a Super Bowl 50 matchup against the heavily-favored Carolina Panthers. Manning did just enough to keep the Panthers honest, then turned to the run game and let the Orange Rush defense smother Carolina. As such, Manning ended his career as a champion, joining John Elway to accomplish the feat.
"He's an incredible person. Just the dedication and everything he put into his career, and his friendships. He was able to toe those lines of friendship and also demanding such excellence. It made him a truly incredible leader," said kicker Brandon McManus, who is the only remaining member of Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos along with Von. "He was an incredible competitor."