Tom Brady is unlikely to ever be fully transparent about why he left the New England Patriots in 2020 to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (a Brady-esque version of "The Last Dance" in the future notwithstanding).
There were reports about friction between TB12 and Bill Belichick. Bucs coach Bruce Arians said recently that Brady "wanted to try a different way." Brady didn't offer much more than "intriguing" aspects about the Buccaneers that drew him to Tampa during his introductory press conference last March.
But one of his assistant coaches just spilled another insight: Apparently Mr. Tom Brady is still competing with his longtime (but long-retired) rival Peyton Manning.
Former Patriots QB Tom Brady (12) and Hall of Famer Peyton Manning squared off 17 times during their NFL careers. (Photo: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)
Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen told "CBS Sports Radio’s The Zach Gelb Show" on Wednesday that, "He said one of the things that looked really fun and challenging to him is what Peyton did in Denver. There was something about that challenge that hit (Brady) right. 'Hey, I’m going to go see if I can do this again somewhere else.' "
Specifically, that challenge was being the starting quarterback for two Super Bowl-winning franchises. Manning, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month, became the first to pull it off when he helped the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50 in his final NFL appearance – nine years after he and the Colts brought Indianapolis its first Lombardi Trophy.
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Prior to that, only Craig Morton (Cowboys, Broncos) and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (Rams, Cardinals) had started for different teams in the Super Bowl.
Christensen knows Manning well, having spent 10 seasons with him as an assistant in Indianapolis, including as his offensive coordinator in 2010.
“I do think that the challenge of that was a huge thing for him," he added of Brady. "Twenty-one years (the length of Brady's career) is a long time. Sometimes there’s time for a change. He’s mentioned several times that he was impressed with it and that looked fun and challenging to him."
Brady now has seven Super Bowl rings, more than any single NFL franchise and five ahead of Manning. Brady won 11 of 17 head-to-head matchups against Manning – their rivalry was the NFL's version of Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird – though Manning wound up with a 3-2 edge in playoff meetings by beating Brady in their final three postseason showdowns.
Manning retired following the 2015 season as the league's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, among numerous other accomplishments, but has since been eclipsed by Brady and Drew Brees on those prestigious lists. Manning does possess an unprecedented five league MVP awards, two more than TB12.
Of course, the next accomplishment that can distinguish Brady from Manning seems obvious given he is perched to become the only QB to ever lead separate organizations to multiple Super Bowl titles.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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