The greatest football rivalry of all time will be Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning, but it would be nothing without Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick spawned defenses that flummoxed Manning year after year en route to three Super Bowl titles, before Manning mustered an incredible comeback in the 2006 AFC Championship game to win the right to destroy the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.
Since that point, the rivalry has been far more balanced, with Manning winning two additional conference championship games, and both Manning and the Patriots reaching three additional Super Bowls. As the rivalry winds to a close, most of the vitriol thrown at both sides will start to take a back seat as we admire what actually happened between one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and the greatest dynasty in NFL history.
After the 2015 AFC Championship game, Belichick approached Manning for the customary post-game handshake.
"Take it all the way, man," Belichick opened up to Manning before the quarterback interjected.
"Hey listen, this might be my last rodeo," Manning said with his voice wavering. "So it sure has been a pleasure."
"You're a great competitor, a hell of a player," Belichick responded before his crowd noise overcame his final thoughts.
Belichick said after the game that his final words to Manning would remain private, but that was never going to happen.
"I don't have anything to share [with the media]," Belichick said. "I shared it with Peyton."
It's clear that Boxin' Bill Belichick has a ton of respect for Peyton. If this is actually Peyton's last rodeo, the NFL landscape is going to be drastically different next season.