With the fifteenth meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning on tap this weekend, it’s worth noting a couple of things.
First, there are too many other players on each team to reduce the game to one quarterback against another. And yet, quarterbacks personify their team like no other player in sports. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, and Joe Montana won three. Each quarterback also had teams playing around him, but nobody could say what their names were. That’s just the nature of this game.
Second, Brady and Manning will never play against each other in a Super Bowl. They may have another year or two after this one, but neither is likely to leave the AFC before he retires. So a conference title is the biggest stakes that they’ll have to compete for.
Third, the winner of Brady-Manning XV will still have to win another game on February 2 in order to claim a title. Interest in the NFC title game won’t come close to what the AFC will garner, but there will still be one last bit of a football fix to be had once the dust settles on Sunday.
Lastly, this matchup might not happen again after Sunday. That’s true of any time they meet on the field, but Manning’s neck situation has put his future in the game into question. We’ve been fortunate to see these two great quarterbacks face off against each other so often, but nothing lasts forever, either.
Here’s hoping for a battle to remember on Sunday.