It has been known for a while as speculation, but it was confirmed last weekend, Peyton Manning will be retiring from the NFL after 18 seasons.
Players and critics have given praise to the quarterback for his services to the league, and there hasn't been a bigger name than one of his rivals, or frienemy if you like, Tom Brady.
Manning and Brady have had some epic clashes throughout the year. The New England Patriots quarterback has won 11 of the 17 head-to-head matchups in the regular season and the playoffs, but the Denver Broncos star has the postseason record of 3-2, with the last win being the AFC Championship game.
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Speaking with Peter King, Brady said he has been amazed by what Manning has been able to do under center during his career, setting the standard in the position.
He said: “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.
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“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.”
Manning threw for 71,940 passing yards, 539 touchdowns, 251 interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 65.3 over the course of his 18-year career. Along with the several NFL records he holds as well, he is considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in history. Many players have learnt from what he has been able to do on the football field and Brady is no exception.
He said: “I realized the level of commitment you must have to be great, 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.”
Brady had posted a great message to the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback on Facebook too.
Manning has ended his career in the best way possible, as a champion. Not many players have been able to do that. He will be truly missed by everyone who loves the NFL.