WASHINGTON • Iconic National Football League (NFL) quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet for the 17th time in their storied careers tomorrow with a Super Bowl berth at stake in what could be the final edition of their generation-defining rivalry.
Brady will lead defending Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots into Denver to face Manning's Broncos in the American Conference championship game. The winner will face either Carolina or Arizona in Super Bowl 50 next month.
While Brady owns an 11-5 edge in the all-time rivalry with Manning, they are 2-2 in play-off match-ups and 3-3 when Brady and the Patriots are not playing at home.
"I've got great respect for the way he plays the position and the way he takes care of himself physically and always answers the bell every single season, every single week," Manning said of Brady.
Manning, 39, would become the oldest winning quarterback in Super Bowl history if he can lead the Broncos past the Pats and go on to capture the title.
Brady, 38, would become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls if he wins the title.
"He has just been an incredible player and incredible leader for his team," Brady said of Manning.
"There have been so many games as a team he has been a part of that they have won. So you can see that he leads a great team."
It is the NFL's equivalent of the epic man-to-man match-ups on the order of the National Basketball Association's Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird, boxing's Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier, and golf's Arnold Palmer against Jack Nicklaus.
Brady has four Super Bowl crowns to one for Manning and six Super Bowl appearances, twice as many as Manning. But he has lost twice to Peyton's little brother, Eli Manning, and the New York Giants in the NFL title spectacle.
The two are friends, have dined together and with their families and supported each other through injuries.
"What is so unique about this rivalry is they have played each other so much," said former Denver star John Elway. "It's amazing they have had this rivalry for such a long time and such a great one. It will be a great show."