American Icons: Tom Brady/Peyton Manning

American Icons: Tom Brady/Peyton Manning

Rivary At It's Finest

    If you’re a football fan, this may arguably be one of the most important weekends in NFL history. Why? Because two of the greatest quarterbacks ever – Peyton Manning and Tom Brady – will go head-to-head for what could be the last time in their careers.

    This will be their 17th meeting overall, the fourth with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line. Regardless of who you are rooting for this coming Sunday, both Manning and Brady have left an indelible imprint on the sport.

Consider this:

  • Brady will play in his 31st career playoff game this weekend, breaking the NFL record.
  • Terrific Tom has thrown the most career playoff touchdown passes (55), far surpassing his childhood idol, Joe Montana, who has 45.
  • The QB, who has lined up under center for the New England Patriots since the 2001 season, has won a record-breaking six conference titles and is tied with Montana with four Super Bowl rings.
  • Brady’s New England Patriots are in their fifth straight AFC Championship Game, matching the Oakland Raiders 1973-77 run. In 14 seasons, Brady has played in 10 AFC Championship games, tying Gene Upshaw and George Blanda for most appearances in the title game.
  • Brady has 22 playoff victories as a starting quarterback. Next on the list? Montana with 16.

Similarly:

  • Manning has five regular season MVP awards, the most of any player.
  • The QB, who comes from a proud NFL lineage, has engineered more game-winning drives (58) than any other in the NFL.
  • Last year, Manning broke the record for most career passing TDs. This year, he broke the record for most career passing yards. He currently stands at 539 career TDs and 71,940 career passing yards.
  • Six years after Brady broke the record for most passing TDs in a season (50), Manning topped him with 55 TDs in 2013. That same year, he threw for 5,477 passing yards, the highest mark ever in the league.
  • Peyton has the most seasons (14) throwing over 4,000 yards.

But numbers tell only part of the story. Both Brady and Manning have shown a passion for the game that is rivaled only by their work ethic.

While Manning benefited from being raised by a father, Archie Manning, who played the sport, he still had to put in the time and energy (detailed last year by Business Insider) to become one of the game’s best quarterbacks.

Brady has shown a similar drive (chronicled this year by the Boston Globe), in part due to some of the slights he received early in his career; most famously he was the 199th pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, selected behind Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn.

Both Brady (2008) and Manning (2011) each missed an NFL season due to injury, but did not let those setbacks stop them from returning to form and assuming their place on the mantle of NFL greats.

But age – Brady is 38 and Manning is 39 – will eventually get the best of them. While Brady continues to perform at a high level, it appears that Father Time is catching up with Manning.

And so we are left to speculate, will this be the last time we see Brady versus Manning? Like all great rivalries – Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird, Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier and Jack Nicklaus vs. Arnold Palmer – they eventually come to an end.

That is why Sunday’s matchup is so noteworthy. It is a reminder that excellence is fleeting. But when we see it, we should take the time to appreciate because one day, it will be gone.

To learn more about Tom Brady off the field, read our blog that kicked off the NFL season and focused on his charitable endeavors. And for a brand of sunglasses that epitomizes the longevity of excellence that Brady and Manning have achieved over their careers, consider our line of Ray-Bans, a company formed in 1937 that is still going stronger than ever nearly 80 years later.

Words of an Icon: “A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don't ever develop that attitude, and the ones who aren't blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest heart.” – Tom Brady

“It’s not wanting to win that makes you a winner; it’s refusing to fail.” – Peyton Manning