Manning vs. Brady: Who's the Real Golden Boy?

(Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

It's a rivalry as ripe for the tabloids as it is for the gridiron.

Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the NFL's golden boy, will square off this weekend with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the league's leading bad boy, for a shot at the Super Bowl.

Both are football savants with four Super Bowl wins between them and both are easily drawn caricatures.

Saying nothing of their performance on the field, this is all you'd need to know about each to draw a hasty conclusion.

Tom Brady, 36: New England Patriots. A Californian who spends his downtime modeling for GQ. After getting his beautiful actress-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan pregnant, he ditched her for supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Peyton Manning, 37: Denver Broncos. Descended from football royalty, Manning, born and raised in New Orleans, has managed to maintain a down-home reputation as a polite Southern gentleman. He married his college sweetheart, and rarely disparages his teammates or his rivals.

But is there more than meets the eye? Both players are considered the best quarterbacks of their generation and are shoe-ins for the Hall of Fame.

Beyond the tabloid headlines, many people see Brady as the harder working of the pair, and more deserving of adulation.

Manning was essentially born with a pigskin-clad spoon in his mouth. The son of NFL quarterback Archie Manning, the No. 2 pick in the 1971 draft, Peyton Manning had a smoother path to the top. He started in college at the University of Tennessee, and was drafted No. 1 by the Colts in 1998 and immediately began playing.

Brady, on the other hand, has scrapped his way to greatness. Always the underdog, Brady was seventh in line to quarterback when he began at the University of Michigan. He was a sixth-round draft pick in 2000, 199 th overall, and only got a chance to prove his mettle when Drew Bledsoe was injured in 2001.

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