New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has opened up to Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King about the retirement of his archrival Peyton Manning. Brady was very open about his thoughts on hearing that he would never get to play Manning again.
"That part sucks," Brady said, sounding sad. "That part really sucks. That part will always suck."
While Brady appreciates the history of the game, and would never classify himself as one of the greats, he knows that Manning is universally well-regarded. The competitor in Brady is also sure to be ticked off that he lost the last game between the two.
"The way he played football, and the way he was consumed by football," Brady told King. "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."
"Every game he has played, I have watched. I have file folders of his plays, of how he plays. It'd take years for me to watch it all again. But what he's done in Denver has been incredible. 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.
"What just happened, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, is a perfect way to end a career. But what he's accomplished through all these years, what makes it so admirable, is the pressure he's had on him his whole life. He was the highest-rated recruit in high school. He was the biggest quarterback in college football. He was the first pick in the draft.
"Who has lived up to the expectations year after year after year as well as Peyton? He's done it so gracefully, so admirably. He set the standard for how to play the quarterback position."
It's true that the Football Prince has exceeded every expectation laid at his feet, and that the act of successfully changing teams in the twilight of his career shouldn't go unnoticed. Brady would not be the quarterback he is today if he didn't have the NFL's Favorite Son lining up on the other sideline.
Brady's first career start came against Manning, and the Patriots quarterback has been watching and learning from Peyton's every move.
"I realized the level of commitment you must have to be great," Brady said. "Watching him do it. I know the time I put in, so I knew the time he had to have put in. It's not 9 to 5. It's a lifelong commitment. Football is a sport, it's an art, it's a religion. It's all-encompassing. He mastered it."
There's nothing but respect between the two and Brady is more than willing to show it.