Peyton Manning’s biggest rivals paid tribute to the quarterback on his decision to retire.
“It’s what I said to my wife after I found out,” Tom Brady explained to Peter King. “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 — imagine what he must feel like with all that pressure off. Twelve months a year, the time commitment, the mental commitment, I can tell you it never leaves you. You are constantly trying to be better, constantly striving to learn more.
“Think about how long he’s been a great quarterback. For Peyton, the pressure’s probably off for the first time in his life. Imagine how that feels.”
Brady enjoyed a 13-9 record against Manning during his career. But Manning got the last laugh with a 20-18 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Nevertheless, Brady says it “sucks” that his nemesis plays no more.
Bill Belichick, who game-planned against Manning in a manner far more direct than Brady did, offered praise for five-time MVP as well.
“For 18 years, we battled fiercely but regardless of each game’s outcome, I always walked off the field with the utmost appreciation for the highest level of competition in which those games were prepared for and played,” the New England Patriots coach explained. “Peyton’s immense contributions to the game reflect how genuinely passionate he is about it. I can honestly say that I never ‘enjoyed’ our meetings, but the respect I have for Peyton Manning as a competitor was, and will likely remain, second to none.”