By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In a perfect world of entertainment, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning hate each other’s guts, and any public appearance involving the two would go about as smoothly as that Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather spectacle in Toronto.
In reality, sadly, two of the very best quarterbacks of all time have a healthy dose of respect for each other and, accordingly, a mostly cordial relationship.
Still, the two are kind of enough to at least play up their rivalry a bit when given the opportunity.
That opportunity came up on Wednesday night, when Manning hosted the ESPY Awards. While Julian Edelman was lobbing pot shots while accepting an award, Brady made an appearance in a pre-recorded skit.
The skit depicted Manning living at a retirement home — because he’s retired, chuckle chuckle chuckle — but having trouble dealing with a woman named Ruth. At the end of the skit it’s revealed (SPOILER ALERT) that Ruth is actually Brady’s grandmother.
Brady twisted the knife a little bit about the current status of himself (reigning Super Bowl MVP) and Manning (retired), and the dear Ruth asked Manning if he also won five Super Bowls. Chuckles all around.
It was funny and of course scripted, but it was interesting to see — if only because this was a dramatic recreation of a very similar, very real scenario that played out between Brady and Manning.
You may remember that in August 2015, Brady’s lawyers released many of his private emails as part of the ongoing DeflateGate litigation, and included in those emails was an email from Brady to a friend about the imminent end to Manning’s career and the infinite length of Brady’s own career.
“I’ve got another 7 or 8 years,” Brady wrote. “He has 2. That’s the final chapter.”
Dang! Still bites!
Since sending that email, Brady went on to win a pair of Super Bowls, establishing himself as the (largely) unquestioned greatest quarterback of all time. He did things at age 39 that no other quarterback has been able to do at that age.
Manning also won a Super Bowl, though he did so after a nine-touchdown, 17-interception regular season in which he was benched for five weeks. In the playoffs he averaged 180 yards per game while throwing zero touchdowns and one interception in the Super Bowl victory. Then he retired.
Now Brady, pliable as ever, figures to play another two or three years at minimum. If you believe him, he’ll be playing until he’s 45 before even contemplating retirement. Brady may even end up passing Manning on some all-time statistical leaderboards — though the slightly younger Drew Brees with his high-flying dome offense is likely to end up above them both.
But for now, Brady is still at his peak, and Manning is cracking jokes at his own expense for being an old man. As professional pitchmen, the two are smart enough to not get nasty in a public forum, because nobody comes out of such spats looking pretty.
As far as how they really feel about each other, that private email from Brady was about as close as we’ll ever get to knowing. So for now, we’ll just have to settle for scripted skits during award ceremonies.