The inevitable chatter began the moment we knew it would be the Broncos and Patriots in another Championship game.
And sure enough, after defeating the Steelers on Sunday, Peyton Manning was asked about THAT rivalry with Tom Brady. Being forced to talk about it countless times before, he coolly provided a not-so-subtle reminder that it will be a “Broncos versus Patriots” situation.
Well, he can downplay it all he wants, but this is history in the making.
Call it Manning/Brady 5.0. We know they've already met 16 times before, this will be their fifth Championship game. We know Brady is 11-5 against Manning, yet Manning was the victor after their last two postseason matchups. This time though, it feels… different. Perhaps it's because it's likely to be the last time Manning and Brady will come face to face in a Championship game. Or any game.
With his physical ailments this season, there's not many people out there who could wholeheartedly say Manning will perform better than Brady (though us Peytonators would love him to prove the doubters wrong). However, Brady has a long way to go before he reaches all those records that Manning already holds. Sure, he has four Super Bowl rings and Manning has one, but he's been MVP twice, as opposed to Manning’s record five times.
Whatever the case, Manning is still one of the Greatest Of All Time. And frankly, he wins the Nice Guy title hands down. In fact, Manning is such a likeable guy that even Brady can't help but respect him. But although they worked together to change ball regulations years ago, the friendship wasn't obvious until the recent HGH saga, when he came to Manning’s defense.
“We'll have lifelong friendships... He's been one of the best players to ever play the game. Nobody has more respect for Peyton than I do, and everything that he's accomplished.”
Who else got the warm fuzzies when they heard Brady say this? You could wonder if Brady’s stretching the truth, but it seems unlikely, even for him.
Make no mistake though. They're both desperate for another chance at a Super Bowl. But no matter what happens this Sunday, these two men will walk away from the Championship game with nothing but the utmost respect for one another.