With how skilled the two are on the field, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both outstanding teammates as well. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
By now everyone has dissected everything possible on the field between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning with the debate of which quarterback is better likely continuing for years to come.
With Sunday being the 16th meeting between the two legendary quarterbacks, every stat imaginable has been compared between the two, but what are the two like behind the scenes – how do the quarterbacks compare in practice, off the field and even who is funnier?
Defensive tackle/fullback Dan Klecko is one of the few players to ever play with both Manning and Brady. In fact, he won Super Bowls with both of them – 2003 and 2004 with New England and 2006 with Indianapolis. Klecko was a member of the Patriots from 2003-05 and the Colts from 2006-07 so he was able to provide us with some tidbits on the two quarterbacks with a very unique perspective.
What are the two like during practice?
“During practice Peyton is running the everything,” Klecko said in a phone interview this week. “I mean everything from how long the periods are going to be, if we are going to repeat a period. From what I remember — look I loved Tony Dungy — but Peyton ran everything out there. He really did and I honestly believe he had a hand in being a general manager out there too, but Peyton ran everything.
“Bill [Belichick] still is going to run everything in New England — with Tom’s input. I think Tom more lets Bill do his thing.”
It’s no secret just how competitive both quarterbacks are and one of the main reasons why they are where they are today.
“They are both ignorantly competitive,” Klecko. “They are both super competitive. Every superlative you could use for them with competitive, they are. Both are the best guys off the field in the world, but on the field it’s tough.”
Klecko told a story from when he was with the Patriots showing how ultra-competitive the Patriots signal-caller is.
“I can remember one time I picked off a screen pass from Brady in practice and I honesty thought he was going to come over and fist fight me,” Klecko laughed. “This was during a spring practice and he was yelling ‘Ass Klecko, bla, bla, bla.’
“I’m going Tom, ‘Calm down, guy.’ But, that is how he was.”
Both are similar with their leadership qualities, as they both lead by example.
“Both are going to lead by example,” Klecko said. “Both are going to beat you in the building and be the last ones out of the building. Everything they do — from extra reps in practice to extra work in the workout room to extra film – they are leading by example. They don’t have to yell at you. You’re in the NFL first of all, so they don’t need to babysit you, but it’s still something when you look up and see a Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in their 15th and 17th years and they are still doing the little things that got them there — maybe even more so now. Who are you to not put in the time like they are?”
HOW ARE THEY AS PEOPLE?
When Klecko was with the Patriots, Brady was just coming to form. He had won the Super Bowl in his rookie season, but the Patriots had just missed the playoffs the year before. In Klecko’s first two seasons with the team, the Patriots won two Super Bowls and Brady’s stardom rose to a new level, but Brady didn’t change one bit. That is something that has stuck with Klecko even today.
“It was neat because when I first got there we weren’t the Patriots, we weren’t the dynasty yet,” Klecko recalled. “They had won one, they had missed the playoffs and Tom wasn’t Tom yet. You knew he was a good player, but you didn’t know that he was this future Hall of Famer — not yet. It was fun to watch him take off. I was there as we won two more Super Bowls and Tom started to make Pro Bowls year after year and the greatest thing about him was nothing changed about him.
“Not a single thing changed about him. He was still that guy that was going to be your friend in the locker room and still that guy that is going to get on you on the field. Nothing changed about Tom and that was always what made me have so much respect and admiration for him.”
Klecko was cut by the Patriots prior to the 2006 season and he immediately caught on with the Colts. When he first got to the Colts’ facility is the moment that sticks with him when he thinks of Manning.
“Peyton was awesome. What a great guy,” Klecko said. “I played against Peyton before and obviously going back to our dad’s we kind of knew each other, but not like that. I can remember being nervous as hell my first time in the Indianapolis locker room — they had been through camp already and I got picked up after camp.
“Peyton was one of the first guys in the locker room and he comes over and says, ‘Dan welcome, anything you need, we got you.’ Once again, he doesn’t have to do that. Here is Peyton Manning and he could have just strolled through the locker room — he didn’t have to care — but, he took the time to come over and shook my hand saying welcome to the team. That always meant a lot to me.”
SENSE OF HUMOR
Both players have their fair share of humor, both hosting ‘Saturday Night Live,’ but in reality Klecko says it’s no contest.
“There is no doubt about it, Peyton is funnier,” Klecko said. “The way I tell people is Peyton is the type of guy that is going to sit and drink beers with you and go to the bar with you. Not that Tom won’t, but people always say, ‘Is Tom as arrogant as he seems?’ I say, ‘No. Tom is the least arrogant person I’ve ever met.’
“The straight true of it, Tom is just a nerd. That’s what he is. That’s what he’s always been. There is nothing about him that is arrogant or stuck up, he’s just a good guy. But, if you look at the commercials and stuff, it’s Peyton hands down. He’s funnier.”
OK, WHO IS BETTER?
What good is a comparison between the two players without asking who is better. When asked who would he rather have if he was the general manager of a team playing in the Super Bowl, Klecko was pretty definitive in who he would want.
“Can I take them both,” he laughed. “It’s well-documented. I love Peyton and he’s a great quarterback if he is not No. 2 or 3, he’s definitely up there, but I love Tom. I think he is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game and the way he always reinvents himself. I love when people always count him out because I know what is about to happen. This guy has come from being a sixth-round pick to being a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. I’ll take my chances with Tom.”