So much for Tebowmania.
Still to be decided is what happens to last season's quarterback sensation, Tim Tebow.
Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams also said Manning let him know that he had picked the Broncos. Adams released a statement Monday confirming the Titans were out of the running and later said to The Tennessean: "He called me himself and told me he wasn't coming, that he made his mind up to go with Denver."
Despite being sidelined all of last season, Manning's success in the past - the Colts averaged a 12-4 record from 2001-10 - made him by far this offseason's top potential signing and perhaps the most desired free agent ever.
Elway, who retired from the game after winning his second straight title in 1999, never sounded all that convinced Tebow was the answer at the sport's most important position and now could trade the enormously popular but flawed QB.
Tebow energized the Broncos in leading them to the playoffs last season - and has fans all over the country - but his play was erratic.
"I wouldn't say I feel bad for him," Ayers said. "It's a business. And I'm pretty sure Tim understands that. ... We wish him luck, no matter what he does. I hope he's here. He's a great leader, a great locker room guy."
Manning was cut loose March 7 by the Colts. The move marked the end of an era, a 14-year alliance between the team that drafted Manning No. 1 overall and the QB who brought Indianapolis from football irrelevance to the 2007 Super Bowl title and a second appearance in the NFL championship game three years later.
Two days after standing alongside Colts owner Jim Irsay at an emotional farewell news conference, Manning began his free agency tour in the place it was ending: Denver. Manning landed on Tebow's turf with all the trappings of star treatment - flown to town on a chartered plane, then spending the day with Elway, coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders.
From there, Manning crisscrossed the country in search of a new team, as various clubs courted a guy with more than 50,000 yards passing, nearly 400 touchdowns and 11 Pro Bowl selections. After Denver, next up was a meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, and he also spent time speaking with - or throwing for - the Titans, 49ers and Miami Dolphins, with TV cameras and even helicopters often on the trail.
In the end, though, Manning decided he wanted to trade in his Colts horseshoe helmet for one adorned by a Bronco. The move would allow him to stay in the AFC, a conference he knows well and one considered weaker than the NFC at the moment, and would re-establish the tantalizing prospect of playing against his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli, in a Super Bowl. They already have three titles in the family.
Manning-to-Denver also creates a fascinating dynamic with Tebow, only months after the former Heisman Trophy winner was the focus of the NFL regular season and perhaps the most talked-about athlete in sports, a polarizing figure both because of his style of play - as far as possible from a classic, dropback passer - and his outspoken religious beliefs.
After taking over a struggling team, Tebow led the Broncos to comeback victory after comeback victory, struggling for three quarters before starring in the fourth quarter and overtime. With an offense transformed into a spread option attack built on Tebow's running, and a strong defense that kept games close, the Broncos won the AFC West title.
A little more than two months later, Tebow could be on the trading block.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper chimed in, saying he hoped Tebow wasn't going anywhere.
"He's a young man, right? And a year or two of working under John Elway and Peyton Manning, you know, I'm not sure any other quarterbacks around the country get that opportunity," Hickenlooper said.
Tebow isn't the only domino that could fall now that the offseason's biggest free agency question is seemingly settled.
San Francisco could decide to keep its own free-agent QB, Alex Smith, who went to Miami for a visit with the Dolphins after the 49ers' flirtation with Manning became public. If Smith does go back to the Niners, perhaps Miami will look to trade for Tebow, who played in college at Florida. The Titans, meanwhile, probably will stick with grooming Jake Locker, who was a first-round draft pick a year ago.
Eric Decker struggled to catch Tebow's erratic passes, and was plagued with drops, but would seem a perfect fit for Manning's precise passing game.
Running back Willis McGahee tweeted: "To all my free agents across the nfl, I think u know what time it is."
Former teammates of Elway's were just as excited, with Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tweeting: "I think (at)Terrell-Davis and I should round up the old gang and make a comeback."
"I got my cleats," Davis fired right back, "I'll meet u (at) Dove Valley!"
AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.
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