"This is not an easy decision. Honestly, it's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me. For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football.
"I've been stuck in this process. I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. Taken the joy out of the game, and after 2016, when I played in pain and was unable to regularly practice, I made a vow to myself that I would not go down that path again. I find myself in a similar situation and the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football and this cycle that I’ve been in.
"I’ve come to the proverbial fork in the road, and I made a vow to myself that if I ever did again, I’d choose me, in a sense. It’s very difficult; I love this team, I love my teammates, the folks in our building, the folks in this building, the fans, the game of football, and as part of this team, as a member of this team, and because of how I feel, I know that I am unable to pour my heart and soul into this position, which would not only sell myself short but the team in the end as well. And it’s sad, but I have a lot of clarity in this. It’s been a difficult process, but my wife, Mr. Ballard, Mr. Irsay and his family and Frank Reich have been incredibly helpful and supportive and I’m so grateful for them. As I told the guys in the locker room, it’s been the honor of a lifetime to represent the horseshoe, the city of Indianapolis both on and off the field. To Mr. Irsay and his family, thank you so much, I am so grateful to have been drafted here. Your unwavering support has been appreciated.
"I cannot fathom another owner who loves their team as much as you do. We feel that as players, it permeates through the building, and from the moment -- and we talked about this earlier -- from the moment I arrived in Indianapolis I felt like I could be myself and I did not have to fill Peyton [Manning] -- one of the greats of all time -- I felt like I did not have to fill his shoes. And I know that starts with the person up top, and for that I am very, very, very much appreciative.
"So many people to thank. I think it’s maybe very fitting that Chuck [Pagano] was the opposing coordinator tonight, so many positive points and moments and such an impact on my life, and B.A. [Bruce Arians] as well, not here tonight but is in Tampa, all my former coaches, but it did feel a little bit full circle walking out there tonight being able to give Chuck Pagano a hug. ...
"There’s a lot of the guys I have to thank. Robert Mathis quickly became and will always be my football hero. I loved playing with him and watching him play; he was as good a teammate as I’ve ever had. Reggie Wayne, what a thrill it was to throw to him. What a thrill it was to throw to you, I thank you for the incredibly positive impact. Joe Reitz, Jack Mewhort, played with some great linemen, and was a part of some great quarterback rooms that helped me grow and become a man in this game. Drew Stanton and Clyde Christensen and Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] and Scott Tolzien, especially Matt Hasselbeck. Matt was a great, great influence on me. I learned so much from all y’all. Lifelong friends. Much appreciated for that.
"Fitting that I’m in my retirement press conference in an athletic shirt; I know I look pretty ratty up here after games. So sorry, Mom, I can’t have a better appearance right now. There are so many people in the Colts organization that make it run, that maybe folks that maybe don’t know about. Doug, Troy and the crew, Pete Ward, everybody in the cafeteria, Tex and the security staff, done an amazing job, everybody on the scouting departments on the personnel job. Todd Vasvari and Matt Terpening picked me and a bunch of other Stanford guys up my rookie year from the Indianapolis airport, took me to Jason’s Deli in Carmel for my first meal in Indianapolis as a Colt; it was awesome.
"Bone doctor, DB, Cary, Kyle, Marcus, Wally, all the doctors, the help and care has been top-notch, especially in times that are tough, especially when you’re seeing the doctor or the trainer. David Thornton, a simple thank you for your compassion, Matt Conti and the PR team. Matt, you have a thankless job, and you do a great job at it.
"Our strength staff, Rusty, Rich and Podell, I do feel that I’m missing people in the building. So many of you do a great job in so many ways, I’ll come and say thank you. You know who you are.
"My wife and I are so proud when people ask us where we’re from and we say Indianapolis. It’s our home; we’ve made lifelong friends. This has been an incredible place to make a home and grow off the field and ... Riley camps around the state. Going to the hospital. Getting a chance to talk with parents ... reading to kids at schools ... hanging out ... children’s museum, the wonderful things they do there. A big thank you to this city. It’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
"I guess I’ll transition to this current team and why it makes it so difficult to stand up here and say I’m retired. It’s a great group of men. It’s a great group of guys, a group that makes coming to work every day very special.
"There are things that people need to know about the men in that locker room: They’re great, they’re honest, they’re real, and there’s no bigger fan of them than me. Chris Ballard, you know I have so much respect and admiration for you. Have had a lot of tough conversations. The honesty. It’s incredible. Frank [Reich], so thoughtful. So kind. I’ve learned so much. There are times last year I’d have to pinch myself, am I allowed to have this much fun on a football field? It started with you. Nick Sirianni and Marcus Brady, the same, gonna miss being with them every day. Good people. All the rest of the staff. They made coming into work a joy, something I certainly, certainly will miss.
"Coming back last year and playing, lot of people had a lot, helped me in a lot of ways, they’ll never know how important that was for me. So, so appreciative. My teammates, I feel so conflicted because of my love, but it has become clear to me that this is what’s best for this team does not involve me.
"When I was a 7-year-old, my father drove me up to Amsterdam so I could watch Adam Vinatieri kick for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. When I was in seventh grade, my father took me to the Super Bowl in Houston, and Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-winner against the Carolina Panthers. And then, my first win as a Colt involves Adam Vinatieri kicking a game-winner against the Minnesota Vikings.
"I stand in awe of Adam Vinatieri. He’s a great man and a great teammate. I’ll tell my grandkids I got to play with him.
"The guys on the O-line: Braden, Glo, Q, Haggard, Le’Raven, Boehmer and Josh and of course Anthony. Been a pleasure to play around. They were a big part of last year being very special for me. So grateful and appreciative to have a guy like Anthony Castonzo walk in the building from the day I walked in.
"Jacoby Brissett is an awesome dude. Diligent, sharp, loves football. I hope I can continue to support him in different ways; so thankful for our friendship. On a personal ... coming back into the building, early last year, I was very jealous and resentful of this fun, happy dude that was in my spot as a quarterback on this team. I obviously did not have any confidence in myself, either. I obviously could not have been more wrong in so many ways. A lifelong friend, he means so, so much to me. He’s a big part of me, and a big part of me having one of the most rewarding years of my life last year. Cannot wait to support him and see him lead this team. Excited for the future of the Colts, in large part because of Jacoby ... so many guys on offense and defense that have been a pleasure to play with. Clayton Geathers, love watching Clayton Geathers run around and play football. All the running backs, Rathy, the tight ends, Eric Ebron, Mo, Jack Doyle. Jackie Jack and I have been through a lot together. I’m gonna miss him a lot on the football team.
"So much respect and love and it runs so deep in me, and I hope they feel that, and I know so many guys in that locker room have had such a big impact on my life in so many ways. And lastly, in terms of guys on this team, T.Y. Hilton, I had more fun throwing the football to T.Y. than should be allowed probably. When I was away in 2017, for the latter half of the season, I had to figure out why I wanted to come back to play football. And I boiled it simply down to the fact that I liked my friends and I loved throwing the ball to T.Y. Hilton. He’s the best football player I’ve ever played with and he’s a better teammate than he is a football player.
"In conclusion, my folks who aren’t here tonight, Mom, Dad, Mare, Emily, and ... [breaks up], Uncle Will, ..."
Reporter: Was this news conference planned? "No, I was going to tell my teammates after the game and 3 p.m. tomorrow was the time I was going to tell you guys.
"I didn’t wake up this morning and [decide]. A week and a half to two weeks. It’s been a little bit fast and furious and the lack of progress on my ankle. I’m in pain. I’m still in pain. I’ve been in this cycle. It’s been four years of this injury-pain cycle. For me to move forward in my life the way I want to, it didn’t involve football."
Was the ankle injury the tipping point? "The reality is I have this and I have had this. So, I don’t know about tipping point. The shoulder, the ankle and this and that. I don’t feel like I’ve lived the life, I don’t feel like I can live the life I want moving forward."
When was his first thought of retirement? "A couple weeks ago."
[On the emotional toll] "I feel quite exhausted and quite tired. I do know once I hit the point where I felt like I knew what I needed to do and I talked to Nicole and my folks and some close friends and had some very difficult conversations with Mr. Irsay, Frank and Chris, it did seem like, in a sense, a weight was lifted. It’s been tiring. I feel tired, and not just in the physical sense.
"I feel so much clarity and so grateful for the experiences and the positive times that I have had here."
[On whether he would consider coming back] "I can’t see the future. But I very clearly in my mind see that I won’t."
[On the ankle injury] "It’s a myriad of issues. Calf strain, posterior impingement, high ankle sprain. Part of my journey going forward will be getting out of pain and figuring out how to feel better.
"This has been my personal journey in football. Everybody’s journey is different. Over the past week, I was thinking, ‘Am I going to have a bunch of resentment toward the game or spite coming into this building?’ And I don’t. All I feel is love for this game and love for my teammates. I know my journey has had some ups and downs and it has taken a toll over the last four years and the mental and emotional toll that that takes as well. I didn’t imagine retiring until two weeks ago."
[On his last day on the field] "I had a good idea that it might be my last time throwing at Lucas Oil as a current member of the Colts. And I made sure to go out there and enjoy it."
[On playing through pain] "In 2016, after that season, which I played through some stuff, I made a vow to myself that I would never do that again. I was in not a good place and I felt that the past week and a half, two weeks. It’s also a big part of why I’m here right now.
"I never looked at it like it was me or the team. I’m part of the team and I do my best for the team and also do the best for myself. But it’s the greatest team game in the world. it’s truly been my honor to suit up next to those guys. It’s part of what makes this very, very difficult."
[On the fans booing him] "I’d be lying if I didn’t say I heard the reaction. It hurt; I’ll be honest.
"I certainly feel like I got my fair chance. I’m thankful for every snap. The lows and the highs, all the positive things that happened in this building that I got to be a part of. I don’t hold any resentment in that way. I do feel like I got a fair chance and I made the most of those chances. Right now, my journey just doesn’t include football moving forward and I feel so grateful. I’ll feel like a Colt forever. I’m so grateful to the Irsay family and everybody in that locker room who I got to take the field with. I understand the suddenness and the surprise behind it. I really do. but I also know I have so much clarity about my next steps moving forward. I’m so excited for this team and it’s a great team.
"I’m friends with so many guys in this locker room and we live here. This is our home. I’ll support the guys."