The Origins of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning

Ask most girls who today’s biggest rivals are and you might hear Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry or Justin Bieber vs. The Human Race. But it pales in comparison to Brady vs. Manning. The two QB greats have gone head-to-head 16 times and are set to face each other again in the 2016 NFL playoffs in Denver, Colorado when the Broncos host the Pats.

But, how the heck did this rivalry originate? Did Brady snag the hot girl in college? Did Manning serve Brady in a carefully worded MySpace post? Nah, it’s all about athleticism and talent.

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Manning was drafted No. 1 in 1998 by the Indianapolis Colts; Brady was a 6th round pick — No. 199, to be exact — for the New England Patriots in 2000. Brady began his career as The Pats’ backup to Drew Bledsoe, but scored a shot to play when Bledsoe went down with an injury.

Before there were four divisions in each conference, like we have now, there were three. In this scheme, the Colts and Patriots were in the same conference, initiating frequent matchups between the two teams. Ironically, 2001 would be the only season where the teams played each other in the AFC East Division, but Brady made a name for himself by beating the Colts — and Manning — two times during the regular season. Since then, the two have faced each other every season, aside from 2008 due to Brady’s torn ACL, and Manning’s neck surgery in 2011.

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To date, Brady leads the head-to-head matchups at 11-5, so it’s a blowout in that sense. However, the two have split the last 10 matchups, taking five wins each. More importantly, neither team has won on the road since 2007 when Brady and the Patriots beat the Colts in Indy during a regular season game. Also, with rumors that Manning will retire after this season, it could be their last on-field clash.

So is there any bad blood? Nah, more like mutual respect. They have called their rivalry a “special” part of their careers and have even been spotted off of the field playing golf together. We’re guessing Katy and Taylor haven’t done that.