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The Rivals: When love, hate and competition collide in sports

  • By Mike Coppinger NFL.com
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There's no NFL rivalry quite like Brady-Manning.

To commemorate the 14th meeting between Tom Brady (nine wins) and Peyton Manning (four wins), NFL Media brought together legendary adversaries from across the sports world to reflect on their own era-defining showdowns and take us inside the mindset of a rivalry. These recollections of six famous head-to-head battles will build up to Sunday's next chapter of Brady-Manning -- a rivalry that seems to transcend football itself.

Watch NFL Network and visit NFL.com/therivals on Monday through Saturday to see the latest great rivalry revealed.

Carlton Fisk-Goose Gossage

Rich "Goose" Gossage, known as the pioneer of the closer role, engaged in many duels with catching great Carlton Fisk during the 1970s and '80s. From 1978 to 1981, they were on opposite sides of perhaps the greatest team rivalry in sports: Yankees-Red Sox. The Hall of Famers squared off in many key spots, with Gossage usually getting the best of Fisk. Gossage, with his nasty slider, held the right-handed Fisk to a paltry .200 batting average (7 for 35), ending several games vs. "Pudge" on his way to 310 career saves.

Fisk
Tale of the tape
Gossage
1
Gold Gloves
0
0
World Series championships
1
11
All-Star appearances
9
2
Playoff appearances
4


Arnold Palmer-Jack Nicklaus

All great athletes have been a part of a great rivalry and the Golden Bear is no exception. Jack Nicklaus' foil was Arnold Palmer and throughout the 1960s they raised each other's games. The legend of Palmer-Nicklaus was born at the 1962 U.S. Open. Nicklaus, three shots behind clubhouse leader Palmer, forced an 18-hole playoff. Nicklaus prevailed by three strokes, and it was on. From 1962 to 1966, no one else wore the green jacket but Palmer and Nicklaus. They finished 1-2 in majors on five occasions, with Nicklaus winning three times and Palmer two.

Palmer
Tale of the tape
Nicklaus
7
Majors won
18
28
Age when winning first major
22
8
PGA Tour money wins
4
2
PGA Player of the Year wins
5
4
Masters green jackets
6


Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova

Considered one of the greatest rivalries in sports history and perhaps the most significant rivalry in women's sports lore, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova's competition spanned 15 years, from 1973 to 1988. The Hall of Famers played 80 head-to-head matches and met in the finals of a Grand Slam a whopping 14 times, though it was usually Navratilova who came out on top. They became good friends and even joined forces to win the 1975 French Open and 1976 Wimbledon in doubles competition.

Evert
Tale of the tape
Navratilova
18
Grand Slam singles titles
18
3
Grand Slam doubles titles
31
4-10
Head-to-head in Grand Slam finals
10-4
37-43
Head-to-head record
43-37
157
Career singles titles
167
$8,891,195
Career prize money
$21,626,089


Bill Walton-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- the NBA's all-time leading scorer -- received more accolades than his counterpart Bill Walton, but their names are forever linked. Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) graduated from UCLA in 1969, two years before Walton enrolled there. The John Wooden-schooled centers met in the Western Conference Finals in 1977, with Walton's Portland Trail Blazers sweeping Kareem's Los Angeles Lakers on their way to the NBA title. Walton spent the twilight of his NBA career in Boston, where he met Abdul-Jabbar one more time in the 1987 NBA Finals. Many consider Abdul-Jabbar the best center ever, but Walton's injury problems kept him from realizing his vast potential.

Walton
Tale of the tape
Abdul-Jabbar
2
NBA championships
6
1
NBA Finals MVPs
2
1
NBA MVPs
6
2
All-Star appearances
19
1
All-NBA first-team spots
10
2
All-defensive team spots
5


Jimmie Johnson-Jeff Gordon

They were teammates and even friends, but that didn't stop Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon from igniting a rivalry that captivated NASCAR fans and raised television ratings. Gordon helped jump-start Johnson's career, but after Johnson blocked Gordon for the second time in a race, NASCAR's greatest rivalry was born.

Johnson
Tale of the tape
Gordon
6
NASCAR Cup Series titles
4
272
Cup Series top 10 finishes
431
2
Daytona 500 victories
3


Andre Agassi-Pete Sampras

In a sport filled with great rivalries, theirs is considered one of the greatest. Agassi and Sampras dominated men's professional tennis in the 1990s, and their contrasting styles on and off the court magnified the competition. They met in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament five times, with Sampras prevailing all but once.

Agassi
Tale of the tape
Sampras
14-20
Head-to-head record
20-14
1-4
Head-to-head record in Grand Slam finals
4-1
8
Grand Slam singles titles won
14
60
Career singles titles won
64
$31,152,975 (fifth all time)
Career prize money
$43,280,489 (fourth all time)
21
Age during first Grand Slam win
19 years, 1 month (record)
101 weeks
Longest reign as No. 1 player
286 weeks
1
ATP Player of the Year wins
6

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