Bill Belichick declined to share what he spoke about with Peyton Manning at midfield following Denver’s elimination of New England in the AFC Championship. Now, thanks to a conveniently thrust microphone, we know some of it.
On NFL Total Access last night, we heard one line, from Manning to Belichick: “This might be my last rodeo. So it sure has been a pleasure.”
Aww. That’s kind of nice.
Manning expanded upon his messages to Belichick and Brady—without getting into specifics—in yesterday’s MMQB.
“I really feel that when everybody tries to analyze me versus Tom and me versus Belichick, I think it’s more about enjoying the games and the rivalry,” Manning said. “And today I hope everybody enjoyed that game. I know I enjoyed being there. That’s what I told Tom and Bill—that I’ve enjoyed this game and I’ve enjoyed all of them. I’ve enjoyed the rivalry and all the games we’ve been in. It’s been such an honor to play against both of them. This is my seventeenth time playing against the Patriots with Tom at quarterback. It’s my 24th against Belichick as head coach or defensive coordinator. I can’t shake either one of them. They are always there. They’re always standing between me and where our team wants to go. What a rivalry. It’s been such a big part of my career. So I wanted to take the time to pass that along to them, with how much respect I have for both of them.”
Depending on how you want to read Manning’s “last rodeo” comment, it’s either an indication that he doesn’t think he’ll get back to another Super Bowl after this one (almost certain), or that he knows the Broncos won’t bring him back (probable) and he might not be able to catch on with another team (possible), or that he’s already made up his mind to retire after the season (that would be news, if not surprising).
Anyway, this is a good reminder that as much as fans may hate rival teams and players, the players themselves almost never do.