When Tom Brady takes the field next season, it will signal the beginning of a new phase of the New England quarterback’s career. Let’s call it the post-Peyton era.
Peyton Manning officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, marking the end of an 18-year run that saw him win five MVPs and two Super Bowls. Manning’s career will, of course, be defined by his innumerable records, but it will also be defined by his rivalry with Brady.
The two quarterbacks famously faced off 17 times (Brady won 11). But their rivalry cut deeper than when they played each other, especially for Brady.
In the lead-up to Manning’s retirement, Brady spoke candidly to the MMQB’s Peter King about how closely he followed everything Manning did on the field. According to Brady, he’s watched every single football game Manning ever played, and he kept file folders of all of Manning’s plays.
“Every game he has played, I have watched,” Brady told King. “I have file folders of his plays, of how he plays. It’d take years for me to watch it all again. But what he’s done in Denver has been incredible. Think of what he did — changing teams, changing organisations, at his age, and then in four years going to two Super Bowls with that team.”
As he continued to talk about Manning, Brady couldn’t stop gushing about his biggest rival (from the MMQB):
What just happened, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, is a perfect way to end a career. But what he’s accomplished through all these years, what makes it so admirable, is the pressure he’s had on him his whole life. He was the highest-rated recruit in high school. He was the biggest quarterback in college football. He was the first pick in the draft. Who has lived up to the expectations year after year after year as well as Peyton? He’s done it so gracefully, so admirably. He set the standard for how to play the quarterback position.
He also discussed what he’s learned from Manning:
“A lot,” said Brady. “I realised the level of commitment you must have to be great, watching him do it. I know the time I put in, so I knew the time he had to have put in. It’s not 9 to 5. It’s a lifelong commitment. Football is a sport, it’s an art, it’s a religion. It’s all-encompassing. He mastered it.”
Manning, in his retirement announcement, said he’ll miss the post-game handshake with Brady. Brady echoed that sentiment to King:
“That part sucks,” Brady told King when asked what it will be like to play in the post-Peyton era. “That part really sucks. That part will always suck.”
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