After Sunday's AFC Championship victory, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning met Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick at mid-field. Both Brady and Belichick offered their congratulations to Manning, who is going to the Super Bowl for what many believe could be his last game.
NFL Films picked up another hint that may support that, as Manning told Belichick (per ESPN), "Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure."
This isn't the first time we've heard Manning talk about this potentially his last rodeo, but it's the clearest indication yet that the future Hall of Famer is considering retiring after the season. It makes even more sense when considering the fact that Manning will be playing in the Super Bowl, which would be a fitting ending to a tremendous career.
Manning has faced Belichick 20 times, going 8-12. Five of those meetings have come in the postseason and four of them in the AFC Championship game (Manning is 3-2 in the playoffs and 3-1 in the AFC title game against Belichick). The rivalry of Manning vs. Brady is obviously and understandably the one that will be remembered, but the rivalry between Belichick and Manning had much more of an impact on the actual game on the field, as they were trying to outsmart each other. It has been a matchup of one of the best coaches in league history against one of the best players in league history, and Manning expressed his appreciation for their matchups.
It makes a lot of sense for Manning to hang it up after this year, as he had his roughest professional season and yet will be playing in the fourth Super Bowl of his career in two weeks when the Broncos take on the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. He will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and as the game's all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and MVP awards, but he'd like to add one more Super Bowl ring to that resume before he's done. Hopefully he can get that on Super Bowl Sunday this year, but if not, it sounds like he might be ready to retire anyway after a tremendous career.