The Peyton Manning sculpture, located at Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts), was unveiled on October 3, 2017. Indianapolis artist and active-duty firefighter Ryan Feeney designed the piece and, assisted by local artist Martin Kuntz, created the clay model from which the bronze sculpture was cast. Indianapolis-based Sincerus Bronze cast the sculpture.
Peyton Manning played 18 seasons in the National Football League, including 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (1998-2010). He was drafted by Indianapolis from the University of Tennessee as the overall first pick in 1998, and is credited for revitalizing the struggling franchise. During his tenure as starting quarterback, Manning led the team to eight division championships, two AFC championships, and one Super Bowl title, the franchise’s first in over three decades, as well as their first since relocating to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984.
In conceiving the work, which took sixteen months from start to finish, the artist worked mainly from photographs and videos of Manning; however, he requested to meet with Manning once in person in order to ensure that the likeness was as accurate as possible. In turn, Manning requested that he be portrayed as the “25-year-old Manning,” rather than the age he was at the time the sculpture was created. The original model was made of dense foam over an armature of steel, with a layer of clay over the foam to create the realistic details. At Sincerus, a mold was made of the model, into which molten bronze was poured by foundry workers. After cooling and unmolding, Feeney adjusted elements of the sculpture’s surface with hand and power tools.
The figure of Manning is posed in a characteristic gesture, about to throw a pass. In the sculpture, Feeney used techniques such as shading and patination to indicate a variety of materials more realistically.
At the time of its unveiling, the sculpture drew accolades not just from sports fans, but from civic boosters and cultural cheerleaders as well. During his years in Indianapolis, Manning was not just a great football player, but a prominent humanitarian and a great inspiration for making Indianapolis what it is today. The popularity of the sculpture reflects the popularity of the man himself.