Tom Brady left the New England Patriots as a free agent when the new league year began on March 18. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a move that made sense to former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber. Two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning has also weighed in, and he was a "little surprised" by the decision.
The former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos QB appeared on SportsCenter to discuss a variety of topics. He touched on the upcoming NFL Draft, LSU QB Joe Burrow and joining a bad team as a rookie. He was also asked about his former rival joining a new team. Manning is the only QB in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with two different teams, but Brady will have an opportunity to match him.
"Well, that was interesting. I talked to Tom at different times but never actually about that decision," Manning said. "He seems happy, he seems excited. I'm a little surprised that 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.
While Manning was surprised that Brady left the AFC for the first time in his career, he knows that his former rival will be striving to find the same level of success that he achieved during his first 20 years in the NFL. Doing so will not be simple, however, as Manning explained. He said that the division rivals of the NFC South will not simply "roll over" and let the Buccaneers win each week. The New Orleans Saints, the Carolina Panthers, and the Atlanta Falcons will all put up a fight.
The reason Manning pointed this out is due to the stigma surrounding the AFC East and the teams that faced off with Brady. The Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills always struggled during his career, which led to the Patriots winning the division 17 times since 2000. The Miami Dolphins won in 2000 and 2008 while the Jets won in 2002. Although Brady missed the entire 2008 season with a torn ACL.
With the six-time Super Bowl champion heading to Florida and the NFC, there are questions about whether or not he will be able to replicate his success. Will Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Teddy Bridgewater give way to their new rival? Manning does not believe this will happen, but he knows that Brady will be putting in considerable effort to achieve success.