There have been several reports and speculations as to why Tom Brady decided to leave the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles. The full story may never come to light until Brady decides to expand on his exit. Yet, one motivating factor that was revealed this week circles back to Brady's longtime rival Peyton Manning.
Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen believes one reason Brady left New England was to match something only Manning had accomplished: be the starting quarterback for two Super Bowl-winning franchises.
"He said one of the things that looked really fun and challenging to him is what Peyton did in Denver," Christensen told "CBS Sports Radio’s The Zach Gelb Show" on Wednesday. "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.'
"I do think that the challenge of that was a huge thing for him. 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."
Once entering free agency for the first time in his career, Brady signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quickly got them to the promised land after handling the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Manning became the first starting QB to win a Super Bowl title for two franchises once hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Nine years earlier, Manning won Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning, who is to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021, retired following the 2015 season fresh off his second Super Bowl win and walked away as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns (since passed in both categories by Brady and Drew Brees).
Christensen, who knows Manning well having spent 10 seasons in Indianapolis as an assistant and was the offensive coordinator in 2010, believes the 43-year-old is looking for more.
"I don't see an end in sight and he certainly doesn't act like there's an end in sight," Christensen concluded. "He's so confident in his routine and what he's doing physically, he's going to be around a while."
Brady maintained his desire to play until age 45 and beyond after his seventh Super Bowl title, which easily stands as the most ever won by a player. Bucs GM Jason Licht recently said he hopes Brady will further his unprecedented career by mentioning the Bucs' interest in a contract extension.
One accomplishment Manning may stand alone with are the five NFL Most Valuable Player awards he won during a career that lasted 17 seasons. Brady only has three league MVPs, but his five Super Bowl MVPs are equally, if not more, impressive.
Perhaps the next goal in mind for Brady as he enters his 22nd NFL season will be to one-up Manning by becoming the only starting QB to ever win multiple Super Bowl titles for two franchises. It may just be another small chapter in one of the greatest QB rivalries in NFL history, but often times the continual need to chase a rival is what one needs to keep going. Especially for someone who's already accomplished more than anyone else.