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Peyton Manning's retirement speech one of the best ever

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It was everything we have come to love and appreciate about Manning the football player and the man.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Retirement speeches are a mix of emotions.

For the person who gives it and the fans who watch. In both instances, a chapter of life ends. The inevitable question of, "Well, what now?" gets thrown out. All we have are the memories. We don't ever want it to end.

Something tells me that Peyton Manning will be OK.

The great speeches include personal stories, humor, perhaps some tears and are 100 percent authentic. Over the years, some have been good. Others, not so much.

I always will remember the emotion that poured out of John Elway when he retired in 1999. He loved the game so much and wanted to keep playing for the franchise he loved, but he knew his body could no longer take the punishment of the NFL.

The best retirement speech ever is that of Lou Gehrig. The New York Yankees first baseman was all class, emotion and honesty. The Iron Horse of baseball was authentic.

"Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."

Manning's retirement speech is now in the conversation as the greatest ever.

Should we have expected anything less?

It was typical Manning.

He spent more time talking about and thanking the people who made it possible.

He showed his dry humor and wit.

He showed his emotion.

He showed how much he loves football and his former teammates, coaches and executives.

It was everything we have come to love and appreciate about Manning.

There was the story about his daughter a week before the Super Bowl.

"Daddy, is this the last game ever?"

Manning continued: "And that's just when I shook my head in amazement because I was thinking, ‘(ESPN) reporters (Chris) Mort (Mortenson) and Adam Schefter had gotten to my 5-year-old daughter to cultivate a new source.'"

The story of his grandpa when he first came into the league and wanting to know if legendary commentators John Madden and Pat Summerall would call his game.

Those personal memories made the speech so special.

We all have our favorite Manning memory, and we'll tell them for as long as we can.

Whether in Indianapolis or Denver, he gave fans plenty to choose from.

On the field, mine came at the end of the divisional-round playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Manning just took a knee in victory formation and immediately turned around when he got up to the give gameball to Demaryius Thomas.

That was the first time Thomas' mother had watched her son play football. Even with the mental and physical toll of the game, Manning put his teammate first. He knew how much that day meant to Thomas and his mother.

Manning's retirement speech is now in the conversation as the greatest ever. Should we have expected anything less?

That says all you need to know about Manning.

He's larger than life but knows how crucial the little things like that are.

Four years ago when Manning signed in Denver, he did so with class and respect.

Four years later he did the same in his retirement speech.

There's a saying in Broncos Country that rings true right now more than ever: Once a Bronco, always a Bronco.

We don't want this chapter to end, but we're thankful for the four magical seasons he was here and what he gave to the Broncos and the fans.

In the words of Manning, "Omaha."