In his retirement speech Monday, Peyton Manning made a point of thanking his fans, saying that they are “at the core of what makes this game remarkable.”
Outside team headquarters, a small group of loyal fans stood in the rain listening to Manning talk and sending one last message of support.
“I’m not going to cry,” said one fan, wiping away tears after listening to the end of Manning’s speech. “He’s just amazing."
"You can see he loves the game, just by the emotion right there," pointed out another.
For fans, this retirement announcement is a time to reflect on the moments, the memories that fans will never forget.
"I got to go to Super Bowl 50, so I guess my favorite memory was seeing him win Super Bowl 50," said Maggie Green, who has been a Manning fan since he played at the University of Tennessee. “He’s one of the hardest working players I have ever seen."
Several fans fondly reminisced about Manning’s return to the game after injury.
"The Chargers this year," said Mike Kane, a fan decked out in Broncos gear. "I was there. It was unbelievable. It was electrifying the crowd that day. When he came back into the game. it was one of my favorite sports memories."
When it comes to football, fans said, Manning is already a legend: "One of the best players of all time." “He can read a field like nobody else. Unbelievable.” “I think to ride out holding the Lombardi trophy was the way to go."
But Number 18's legacy, though, is about more than football. Fans insisted, it’s about the inspiration. As he put it in his speech -- not to be led by setbacks, but by dreams.
“Even in adversity, he never gave up,” said Pola Nye. “And that is rare. That is rare.”
The fans weren’t quite ready to let go, though. Just about every one of them had their fingers crossed that Manning would come back to the Broncos as a quarterback coach or offensive coordinator.
"Come back! We can't get enough of the guy," said Jeffery Williams.