Peyton Manning on Tom Brady: ‘I think he’s going to do great’ in Tampa
Tom Brady, the only quarterback with too many Super Bowl rings for one hand, typically blazes his own trail.
But in this case, he’s a follower.
Brady and Manning, whose rivalry defined an era, are good friends with much in common. In fact, three of Brady’s coaches with the Buccaneers — head coach Bruce Arians, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen and offensive consultant Tom Moore — coached Manning at various points in his Indianapolis career.
Brady has six Super Bowl rings, all from his years in New England. Manning has two rings, winning one each with Indianapolis and Denver.
In recent interviews with The Times, both Brady and the retired Manning discussed their connection, as well as the hopes and expectations they have for this season.
For years the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have struggled in the NFC South, but the combination of Tom Brady and Bruce Arians will pose a challenge to the Saints.
“It’s been really fun just to get to know coach Moore, and Clyde, and Bruce, and even [offensive coordinator] Byron [Leftwich],” said Brady, 43, whose team opens Sunday at New Orleans. “These are people that were our staunchest competitors, and now we’re on the same team. Man, we laugh out loud so much just about the different stories that we’ve told.
“You have the perspective that I had, then you have their perspective. There’s not a day that goes by that there’s not some story about some situation in Pittsburgh with Byron, or some situation with the Patriots and Indy. We give each other [a hard time] every day.”
Manning watches from afar.
“I think he’s going to do great,” he said. “Obviously, I can tell how excited he is. I know Bruce and Clyde are excited to have him not only on the practice field and game field, but in the building as a leader.
“Certainly not normal circumstances with the pandemic and lack of an offseason program, but if anybody can handle that, it’s going to be Tom.”
LISTEN: Manning on Brady’s golf game and the Bucs
There was lots of speculation about where Brady would land after parting ways with the Patriots, with conjecture swirling around Tennessee, Miami, and the Chargers, in addition to Tampa Bay.
“There were a lot of different choices,” Brady said. “Some are very personal, obviously. I wanted to be in a situation to really perform well and to be a great player. There were some different opportunities, and really evaluated all of them. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, it was very well thought out. I really tried to think about what really was going to work well for me and my family, and make the best decision possible.”
In May, Brady and Manning participated in “The Match: Champions for Charity,” a made-for-TV golf showdown featuring Brady and Phil Mickelson versus Manning and Tiger Woods at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla.
Brady struggled mightily, and Manning and Woods wound up winning.
“The thing is,” Manning warned, “be careful ever feeling too sorry for a guy with six rings.”
Brady believes No. 7 is within reach. The Buccaneers went 7-9 last year with quarterback Jameis Winston, who had 33 touchdown passes and a league-leading 30 interceptions. They have outstanding receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and now an All-Decade tight end in Rob Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to rejoin his Patriots quarterback.
Tom Brady knows how to handle pressure well on the football field and the golf course, a characteristic that should serve him well with the Buccaneers.
The reason some quarterbacks make it to age 40 and beyond is they play the game between their ears, rather than relying solely on their arms. That’s the case with Manning, Drew Brees in New Orleans, and Philip Rivers, 38, now in Indianapolis. Those players know what defenses are going to do before they do it, and make the appropriate pre-snap adjustments. They have seen it all. That skill is undeniable with Brady.
Manning, who was 39 when he won his Super Bowl with the Broncos, was victorious even though his arm strength was in significant decline. Denver leaned heavily on its defense that season, along with its running game and the knowhow of Manning, who consistently put the offense in the right play.
But with Brady, who is four years older, his arm strength is unwavering. He has retained his fastball, even though much of his success is predicated on his pinpoint accuracy. He has the ability to make the throws necessary in Arians’ attacking “No risk it, no biscuit” scheme.
Brady can win with his mind and arm. And there’s something else.
“The great thing about football players is, it’s just a tough, hard-nosed sport,” he said. “And if you’re not that — mentally, physically — you’re not going to last very long.”
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.