Eli Manning is one of the few people on planet Earth who can say he’s gotten the best of Tom Brady.
Two of Brady’s three Super Bowl losses — which go along with six titles — came at the hands of Manning and the New York Giants, including a crushing defeat in Super Bowl XLII that spoiled the New England Patriots’ quest for a perfect 19-0 season.
So, Manning is in a unique position when it comes to assessing Brady’s decision to leave the Patriots and sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency after 20 seasons in New England. And the longtime Giants quarterback admitted he’s a bit stunned by what transpired.
“I was surprised, how it all worked out,” Manning recently told the New York Post. “I just did not imagine him leaving, them letting him go and him going somewhere else, just from my experience. But for him to have had all the success, do everything he’d done in New England and did it with one organization, I guess you just kind of wonder what was the reasoning? I don’t know if he felt unappreciated, or just wanted to try something different, but was surprised that this went down.”
Manning, who spent his entire 16-year career with the Giants, announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2019 season. New York opted to build around young quarterback Daniel Jones, while Manning, now 39, is on to the next chapter of his life.
It’s unclear when Brady, who turns 43 in August, will follow suit and hang up his cleats, especially since he signed a two-year contract with Tampa Bay that includes a rather notable clause. But Manning doesn’t expect the Patriots to fall off the map in wake of Brady’s departure. Not with Bill Belichick still running the show.
“No, I don’t necessarily think that,” Manning told the New York Post when asked whether Brady’s exit marks the end of New England’s dynasty. “I think they still have a very good team, a great defense, great coaches. Obviously Tom was a very important part on their success over the years, but I think they have kind of a way and they have a system that Belichick has implemented there that I think will continue to find ways to have success, but it will be different. If they go out and get a new quarterback, or stay with the guys they have, it might not be as it’s been in the past.”
Brady’s career has featured few blemishes, but Manning — and his brother, Peyton, for that matter — sure left a mark. We now can include him among those left scratching their heads as Brady prepares to wear a different uniform for the first time in his NFL career.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images