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Patriots: Manning's return to NFL saved best individual rivalry in sports

&nbsp;It&rsquo;s not Patriots-Colts, but that was never what it was all about.<br />&nbsp;

It’s not Patriots-Colts, but that was never what it was all about.



The lure of those two teams facing off against each other since 2001 was due to two players: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.



Who’s better?! No Presidential debate is big enough to top that one.



Brady and Manning make up the best present day player rivalry in sports – and it’s been that way for a decade. Go ahead and think of a better one… I’ll wait.



The rivalry resumes in Foxboro this Sunday when Manning’s Broncos visit Brady’s Patriots. The two have faced off in 12 games, with Brady holding an 8-4 record over Manning, including 2-1 in the postseason.



Of course, Brady’s preparation doesn’t involve what Manning does, but he does acknowledge the hysteria and history surrounding the matchup.



“You're not blind to the fact that there’s a great player on the other side of the ball that is capable of having a great performance,” he said. “I think you realize that that’s a part of the game. ... It seems like it has always come down to the end against [him]. When he was playing for the Colts, it was always close games.”



When Manning had neck surgery last season, there was a thought that it would prematurely end his Hall of Fame career. Just like that, a rivalry fans around the world loved would come to a screeching halt. Fortunately, it’s resuming. The Colts released him, and teams came calling – Denver won out.



Brady isn’t surprised at Manning’s determination to return to the game he loves. He, too, returned after a season-ending injury (albeit less significant), and has since stated his desire to play for a long time.



"It's a great sport. I love coming to work every day,” Brady said. “I love the challenge that the weeks bring, the mental challenge, the physical challenge. I love the training. I love being around my teammates. There's just not much out there other than my family. It's like the abyss, you know? There's nothing else."



And there’s nothing else like a Brady-Manning Sunday. Here’s to many more.



Brandon Lloyd on what separates Brady and Manning


"Preparation. Preparation, leadership and just the way that they hold themselves to a higher standard and in order to be on the same team and compete with those guys you have to do the same thing. You have to do the same thing to earn their respect. So they naturally elevate the play of the players around them."

 
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