When New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked how he feels knowing he will never get to play longtime rival Peyton Manning again, and responded with a simple "That part will always suck," in the latest edition of the Monday Morning Quarterback.
Brady spoke at length about Manning, a player he has been compared to his entire career and will continue to be compared to well into Manning's retirement and, eventually, Brady's retirement. Both are unarguably the best quarterbacks of their era, with players like Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning clearly a tier below them.
Manning retires with two Super Bowl wins, a Super Bowl MVP award, five NFL MVP awards, 14 Pro Bowl nominations and 10 All-Pro nominations. Brady boasts four Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVP awards, two NFL MVP awards, is an 11-time Pro Bowler and was named an All-Pro three times.
"Who has lived up to the expectations year after year after year as well as Peyton?" Brady said. "He's done it so gracefully, so admirably. He set the standard for how to play the quarterback position."
The rivalry between these two will be missed. They have played each other 17 times, with their first meeting taking place in 2001. Brady leads the head-to-head series with an 11-6 record, but they are tied at 5-5 over their last 10 meetings. Manning leads the playoff series 3-2, and got the last laugh by leading the Broncos to a 20-18 victory in January in the AFC Championship. The Broncos then advanced to the Super Bowl and beat the Carolina Panthers.
Manning could have retired years ago and still had the resume to be among the best-ever quarterbacks in NFL history. There is no question that he'll end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially after what he was able to do after having his future in doubt when he departed the Indianapolis Colts.
"But what he's done in Denver has been incredible," Brady said. "Think of what he did -- changing teams, changing organizations, at his age, and then in four years going to two Super Bowls with that team."
Brady also agreed that what Manning did throughout his entire football career, from being a highly rated recruit in high school to being a big quarterback in college and even the first pick in the NFL Draft. Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts, but he also grew something of a reputation as a choker in the playoffs.
He successfully shed that label this past season. And even if he hasn't, Manning doesn't have to worry anymore. The pressure is off, and Brady recognizes the significance of that, too.
"The way he played football, and the way he was consumed by football, all the mental energy he had to use, and I mean every day of the year you're thinking about it," said Brady. "Imagine what he must feel like with all that pressure off."
Obviously, the pressure on Brady isn't off and won't be until the 38-year-old decides to call it a career himself. But for now, Manning can relax and as a bonus, he has the respect and admiration of his greatest peer.
At his retirement presser on Monday, Manning made sure he gave a shout-out to Brady, too.
"I'll miss that handshake with Tom Brady," he said.