Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning says he was “a little surprised” to see former foe Tom Brady sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.
“Well, that was interesting,” Manning said Sunday on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” “I’m a little surprised he jumped over to the NFC. I always see Tom Brady as an AFC guy, so he’s going to have to go through initiation to learn the ropes of the NFC.”
Manning played all 17 of his NFL seasons in the AFC, beginning with the Indianapolis Colts and ending with the Denver Broncos. He’s the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams, although Brady certainly seems determined to join him.
In Tampa Bay, Brady will be working with a number of Manning’s former coaches, including head coach Bruce Arians, who was Manning’s quarterback coach for his first three seasons in Indy; offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who was Manning’s OC for 11 seasons in Indy; and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, who was on the Colts’ coaching staff for 10 of Manning’s seasons in Indy.
“Tom’s going down to get coached by guys that I’m very familiar with, guys that know football, that love football,” Manning said. “Everybody knows how hard he’s going to work.”
Manning said he likes the pieces around Brady, as the Bucs tout a pair of high-performing receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But he also noted the group will be up against some steep competition.
“He’s got a tough division,” Manning said. “I don’t think the Saints and the Falcons and the Panthers are going to just let the Bucs roll into town, so it should make for some interesting divisional games and matchups.”
Manning said he’s spoken to Brady “at different times” — the six-time Super Bowl champion appeared on an episode of the ESPN program “Peyton’s Places” in January — but the pair have not chatted specifically about his decision to change teams. Still, Manning gleans positive vibes.
“He seems happy,” he said. “He seems excited.”
Manning isn’t the only ex-Arians player to share his thoughts on Brady’s move.
Earlier in April, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told Sirius XM NFL Radio he was “excited” for Brady. Arians had served as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator for five seasons of Roethlisberger’s tenure.
“I knew who he was going to play for in Bruce Arians,” said Roethlisberger. “He’s going to enjoy the heck out of that because he was fun to play for.”
Roethlisberger is also familiar with the Bucs offensive coordinator Bryon Leftwich, one of his former backups.
“I texted Byron and said, ‘Hey, don’t screw it up,’” Roethlisberger said. “He said, ‘All I got to do is get out of the way.’ It’s going to be good for him. I’m excited for all of them.”