The jersey number, which is one of three officially retired by the Broncos, has previously been worn by only Broncos Ring of Fame quarterback Frank Tripucka. One of the original Broncos, who played in Denver from 1960-63, Tripucka spoke to Manning over the phone Tuesday morning and offered to bring his number out of retirement for the future Hall of Famer.
“I had the privilege of speaking with Peyton Manning this morning, and I let him know that I would be honored if he wore No. 18 for the Denver Broncos,” Tripucka said. “I have admired Peyton for a long time. He is one of the all-time greats, and having him wear the same jersey that I did brings me a lot of joy. I can’t wait to see him in No. 18.”
Tripucka, who led Denver to its first-ever .500 season in 1962 (7-7) and was named an AFL All-Star that year, is joined by Hall of Famers John Elway (No. 7) and Floyd Little (No. 44) as one of three Broncos whose jersey number is retired.
He recorded his best statistical season in 1960 when he completed 248-of-478 passes (51.9%) for 3,038 yards with 24 touchdowns. His 3,038 passing yards led the AFL that year while his 24 scoring passes tied for the second-highest total in the league.
Tripucka currently ranks seventh in Broncos history in passing yards (7,676), completions (662) and touchdowns (51) as well as fifth in pass attempts (1,277). A former star at the University of Notre Dame, Tripucka joined the Broncos after playing for the Detroit Lions (1949), Chicago Cardinals (1950-52) and Dallas Texans (1952).