Tom BradyAs Tom Brady and Peyton Manning set to do battle for the 16th time in their careers on Sunday, the veteran quarterbacks are making it clear there’s an abundance of mutual respect between the two.

Many compliments have been traded in the days leading up to the Week 9 showdown between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots, and Wednesday proved to be no different, as it was Manning’s turn to laud Brady for his toughness and durability.

Before neck surgery forced Manning to sit out the entire 2011 season, the signal-caller had started 277 consecutive games, including the postseason, dating back to his rookie season, while Brady hasn’t missed a game since suffering a torn ACL/MCL in the 2008 season-opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. But Brady’s ability to bounce back and not only maintain his health, but return to his elite form, is something Manning admires in his opponent.

“Certainly, I think a quarterback’s job first and foremost is to be out there,” Manning said during a conference call Wednesday. “Brady is always there. He is always there. He had his one season where he was injured on the first play of the first game of the season, I think. He couldn’t be there to help his team, but since then, he’s been back and of course playing like Tom Brady does since then. I think that’s one of his real strengths is always answering the bell.”

While quarterbacks aren’t exactly known for their toughness on the field, Broncos coach John Fox added there’s no arguing Brady and Manning are some of the most resilient signal-callers in the league.

“I think really to play in the National Football League, you’ve got to be tough,” Fox said. “It’s a tough way to earn a living. A lot is made of different stuff, but in my opinion, (the quarterbacks) earn every penny.”

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