By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have long been rivals on the gridiron but friends off the field. It’s made sense that the two have remained friendly, considering they’re the only contemporaries who could really relate to each other as far as being historically great NFL quarterbacks.
But now, that friendship — like the on-field rivalry — may be over.
Appearing at a Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe, Manning made a joke that placed guilt on Brady for the saga known as “DeflateGate.”
“Hey, I don’t worry about Rob Lowe. He is a workhorse,” Manning said. “And heck, man, if they ever stop casting you in sitcoms, just look on the bright side: You tried to take the air out of my retirement announcement so fast, you can probably get a job as Tom Brady’s ball boy.”
The first reaction is … what happened to Peyton Manning’s comedic timing? This guy used to appear to be legitimately funny in his stints hosting SNL and popping up on every single television commercial that aired from 2002-08. Apparently, retirement has sucked the funny right out of Peyton.
(In case you didn’t understand the joke, Lowe tweeted in January 2012 that Manning would retire. That proved to not be true.)
Secondly, that is some remarkable video editing. You would have thought Peyton just took down the Apollo with the way that reaction was spliced in after the joke.
Most importantly, you wonder how this will affect the relationship between two of the all-time greats. It’s a relationship that’s remained respectful, even through heated years of Patriots-Colts and then Patriots-Broncos rivalries, and even after Brady’s email about Manning’s short shelf life was made public.
But DeflateGate — even in a joking context — might be too personal for Brady. He’s about to enter a forced four-week vacation for an offense that might not have even happened. Certainly, Brady has maintained his innocence throughout the year-and-a-half soap opera, only dropping his appeal when it figured to push his suspension to an unknown time during the season or, perhaps, the postseason.
Last year, Manning shrugged off the Brady email from 2014, which said, “I’ve got another 7 or 8 years. He has 2. That’s the final chapter. Game on.” Brady turned out to be correct with that estimate, as Manning retired this year after winning the Super Bowl (despite throwing just 11 touchdowns and 18 interceptions total on the year).
But perhaps Manning didn’t shrug it off quite the way he explained publicly, and maybe that led to the DeflateGate low blow.
Right about now, this may be the least of Brady’s worries. But then again, he’s going to have a lot of free time on his hands starting next week. He may end up adding Manning’s name to a long list of bashers, muttering, “Et tu, Peyton?”
Johnston & Flynn discussed Manning’s joke and delivery Tuesday morning while filling in for Toucher & Rich. Listen below: