Peyton Manning has a reputation for writing letters. Many of them we never find out about, but he has for a long time written letters to people in various situations, including retiring NFL players. If there is a player who has had an established career and who Manning looks up to, he will write that player a congratulatory letter upon retirement.
The former Colts quarterback this offseason retired himself, but that didn’t mean he stopped from writing letters to other players. In fact, he wrote a letter to another former Colts quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck.
Of course, Manning and Hasselbeck only share that similarity in title, as Manning is the greatest player in Colts franchise history and Hasselbeck was a glorified backup for a few years. But both played for the Colts, and this offseason Hasselbeck decided to retire. So, naturally, Manning wrote him a letter.
The similarities between Manning and Hasselbeck don’t end at having quarterbacked the Colts, however. Both of them were selected in the 1998 NFL Draft, outlasting nearly everyone else from that draft class with long careers. Manning obviously will be a first ballot Hall of Famer and is arguably the best quarterback in league history, but Hasselbeck didn’t have a bad career himself.
He ranks 22nd in NFL history in passing yards and 31st in touchdown passes, while he also made three Pro Bowls. In 2005, he helped lead the Seattle Seahawks to an NFC Championship win and Super Bowl berth. In his 18-year career, he started 160 games and played in 209, throwing for 36,638 yards and 212 touchdowns against 153 interceptions while completing 60.5% of his passes, good for a passer rating of 82.4. For the last three years, he was Andrew Luck’s backup with the Colts, and in 2015 he was thrust into the starting role due to Luck’s injures. Hasselbeck wound up starting eight games (more than any other Colts quarterback last year) and did admirably, playing well enough to keep the Colts’ playoff hopes alive until the final week of the season.
Hasselbeck will now head to work at ESPN, while Manning will take a year off and enjoy retired life (mainly by watching a lot of football). But the two quarterbacks who outlasted all of the others from the 1998 NFL Draft both retired this offseason, and Manning wrote Hasselbeck a letter of congrats. That’s a classy move of appreciation from the ultimate Colts quarterback to another former Colts quarterback.