Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning shared a moment of honesty regarding his move from Indianapolis to Denver during a podcast interview recently.
Professional athletes typically stick to discussing their own team during media availability, relying on colloquialisms and cliches by the dozen. If another team’s success ever factors in their decision-making, it’s never admitted. So for Manning to suggest that the dynastic Patriots of last decade weighed on his mind while choosing his next destination in the league was refreshing and interesting.
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“I remember talking with the 49ers, talking with Seattle and talking to the Cardinals, and the whole recurring theme in my mind, I’m just an AFC guy,” Manning said. “I think I should stay in the AFC. You’d think it’d be, ‘Please get away from the Patriots, go play in the NFC.’ I don’t know, if you’re going to play in the Super Bowl, you’re going to have to go through New England, so might as well play them in the AFC championship every year.
“New England had a little role in my decision to go to Denver.”
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Manning led the Broncos over the Patriots in the AFC title games in 2013 and 2015, winning his second Super Bowl in 2015. The rivalry had its ups and downs for both teams, and although Brady, Belichick, and the Pats ended up with a war chest of rings, Manning always gave them hell.
Manning also shared some humorous thoughts about Belichick, who he clearly respects and admires, despite the rivalry.
“When you get a compliment from Bill Belichick, it means something. He’s not really impressed by a lot of things,” Manning said. “I remember sitting on a bus with him at a Pro Bowl and I love hearing about the old days when he’s a d-coordinator. What was it like (facing) Joe Montana. He’s like, ‘You’ve got Jerry Rice on these short drag routes, how hard is it to complete it to him.’ How about Jim Kelly in the K Gun? ‘You’ve got Thurman (Thomas).’
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“Don’t ever ask Belichick what he thinks of me because I don’t want to hear it. It’s not that hard when you’ve got Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison.”