Peyton Manning, Tom Brady are friendly rivals
By John Kryk, QMI Agency
|New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, leaves the field after beating the Buffalo Bills after in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Orchard Park, New York September 30, 2012. (REUTERS/Doug Benz)
It’s been a while since the NFL was both Peyton-less and Brady-less. You have to go all the way back to 1997…
When Peyton Manning was in his final year at the University of Tennessee.
When Tom Brady was a bench-riding sophomore at the University of Michigan.
When we watched movies on VCRs, when the best computer you could buy had 32 MB of RAM, when Monica Lewinsky was hailing the Chief, and when Robert Griffin III was but seven years old.
Manning is now in his 15th NFL season, Brady in his 13th. Barely a game goes by anymore when one or the other isn’t setting a new NFL mark for something.
On Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks square off for the 13th time.
While Brady has won eight of those head-to-head matchups, Manning has taken four of the past six, all with his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts.
The historical meaningfulness this time is that it’s the first NFL game pitting quarterbacks who have each thrown at least 300 career touchdown passes. (Contrast that with Sunday’s Seattle-Carolina game, in which Russell Wilson and Cam Newton have a combined 29 TD throws.)
But more than that, Manning’s Denver Broncos and Brady’s New England Patriots are both 2-2. The loser falls back under .500 and faces a steeper climb to the playoffs.
That’s all that matters to this generation’s two greatest quarterbacks.
So said Thomas Brady, Tom’s dad, in a telephone interview with QMI Agency on Friday night.
“It’s truly not about their own goals,” the elder Brady said. “I know a couple of weeks ago, Tommy had a very average game (against Tennessee). I think he threw for about 240 or 250 yards or something. But there were no turnovers. There were maybe one or two penalties against his team, and he thought it was just as terrific a game as you could ever play, because the team won, and they played well as a unit. And I’m sure that’s true of Peyton.”
Manning and Brady are friends. They stay in touch with one another, back each other’s initiatives affecting the game, and even get together every first weekend of May.
“I don’t know that they’re best of friends. That being said, they do actually get together at the Kentucky Derby every year,” Brady’s father said. “It’s kind of a neat gathering of the guys. They share war stories.
“There’s a great respect and admiration – and competition. They aspire to their own goals. So while they may be friends and collaborate off the field, on the field they want to beat each other’s brains out.”
As it happens, both come into this game red hot.
Last Sunday, Manning led the Broncos to 27 second-half points, including two TD passes, in a 37-6 rout of the visiting Oakland Raiders.
Manning seems to have bounced back from the brain cramps (or arm cramps?) that afflicted him in the first quarter of Week 2, when the Atlanta Falcons picked him off three times. Since then Manning has not been intercepted and has been, in a word, outstanding.
While he still might not be able to make all the deep throws as he once did – he continues his recovery from the four corrective neck surgeries he had last year – Manning has proven he can more than make up for it with savvy, accuracy, anticipation and preparation.
“Peyton has never lived with his fastball. Peyton, just like Tommy, has lived with his brains,” Brady Sr. said. “That’s the difference … The best pro quarterbacks live with their brains and know where to throw the ball.”
Brady Jr. last Sunday led the Patriots to 45 second-half points in Buffalo, including three touchdown passes in a 52-28 demolition of the Bills.
At times, Brady and the Pats offence this season have appeared even more dangerous, thanks to the bolstered rushing attack provided by Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden. The Patriots are averaging more rushing yards per game so far this year (144) than at any season-ending juncture in Brady’s tenure.
And yet Brady himself is on pace to have his second most prolific season; he’s averaging 294 passing yards per game, after last year’s 318.
Both teams’ defences have shown a vulnerability to the pass. In other words, we could have a shootout in Manning-Brady XIII.
Peyton and Tom probably wouldn’t mind that in the least.
“He’s a phenomenal player, leader and quarterback,” Brady said this week of Manning, “and it’s great watching him play out there.”
It’s great watching both of them play out there. Who knows how many more times we might get to see them do it head-to-head? If ever again?
Enjoy it, people.