They were rivals on the field, but New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and retired quarterback Peyton Manning were all smiles on Sunday as they met outside the locker rooms at Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The two athletes (and former Saturday Night Live hosts) were snapped catching up during a behind-the-scenes chat at the Patriots/Broncos game — which New England won, 16-3.
Manning’s longtime teammate Brandon Stokley snapped a shot of the pair, sharing it on Twitter.
“Thought #NFL fans would like this picture I took of a few old guys last night after the #Broncos #Patriots game.” he wrote. “#Legends #Greatness.”
So what exactly were the two talking about?
“We just caught up,” Brady revealed during his weekly interview with Westwood One Radio on Monday night. “For the most part, we haven’t seen each other in a long time, so it was just catching up — talking about our families, some holiday plans — just a lot of very cordial conversation.”
Brady, who confessed Christmas has snuck up on him and left him with “a lot of shopping to do,” said he and Manning have always had a strong friendship.
“I really like Peyton,” he told host Jim Gray. “There are a lot of things in common that we’ve had over the years, so it’s nice to have someone who can relate to a lot of similar experiences we’ve had. Being that we were in it together for so long at the same time, it’s really a special relationship to me.”
“[We’ve] had a great friendship over the years, and hopefully, it will stay that way for many years to come,” he added.
That friendship has sustained through the years — despite the fact that they were always battling.
“He wanted to beat the heck out of me as Tom Brady the football player. And that’s very different than Tom Brady the person,” Brady said. “When you’re wearing that opposing jersey, that’s just the way it goes. That’s what you signed up for. But post-game and when you’re not wearing the jersey, it’s a whole different set of circumstances.”
Brady said their meeting Sunday was the first time the pair have seen each other since the two-time Super Bowl winner retired after 18 seasons in the NFL. The two spent time together briefly before the game, and then again after the game with Manning’s 5-year-old twins, Marshall and Mosley.
“It was nice to see him. It was a nice surprise. I didn’t realize he’d be at the game,” Brady said. “It was nice to see his kids are growing up fast, just like mine are.”
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There is certainly a lot of respect for Manning in Brady’s book.
“I thought he was just one of the very best to play the position,” he said. “I always looked up to him and admired him for everything that he accomplished in the league as a great leader for his team. He was just a spectacular player. So I’ve always enjoyed being around him and certainly always talking a lot of football.”
As for whether Brady thinks Manning will ever return to play football, the 39-year-old quarterback didn’t think he would — but was quick to say that Manning misses the sport.
“I think everyone misses football,” Brady said. “He loves the game. This is something he’s done since he was a little kid … When you’re around for as long as he’s been — as long as I’ve been — you have a lot of friends that aren’t necessarily directly with your own team. It’s really a great camaraderie with the guys and coaches who you’ve been through so many battles with.”