On the day Tom Brady made his first start with the Patriots, the opposing team's quarterback walked across the field during warm-ups.
"Hey, Peyton Manning," he said.
Brady shook his hand, and he thought to himself, "No [expletive]."
In the days and years since that day (when the Patriots beat Manning's Colts, 44-13), Brady and Manning have developed a unique relationship. They are the leaders of the most winningest teams of the decade, in constant competition for Super Bowl titles, MVP awards, who's the best Saturday Night Live host, and anything else you want to name. They're also friends.
When they meet at charity events, they talk football. When Brady suffered a staph infection during the rehab from his massive knee surgery, he called Manning, who had endured the same thing.
"That is a true story," Brady said. "I called him and I said, 'Tell me about your knee and what you went you went through.' He provided a little bit of insight. He was very encouraging. Always has been. He’s just that kind of a guy. He’s a very classy guy."
Brady has never played in the Colts' new Lucas Oil Stadium, but he already knows it's not as loud as the old RCA Dome. "Petyon told me," Brady said.
"I'm always keeping up on Peyton," Brady said. "We talk from time to time. I have a lot of respect for him as a player and the kind of role model that he is, and for the way he carries himself, and for the way he leads his team, and for the way he's a representative for the league. All those things."