Surprising Truth Behind the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos greet each other midfield following the game on Oct. 7, 2012, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

In the lead up to this weekend's NFL playoff game, there's been as much talk about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's personalities as there has been about their stats.

Both are football savants with four Super Bowl wins between them and both are easily drawn caricatures. But there is more to these men than what meets the eye, or makes for an easy tabloid headline.

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Despite years of genuine hard work, Brady, with his supermodel wife and model good looks, is easy fodder for haters. And Manning, who is hailed for his aww-shucks humility, descends from football royalty and has never really had to prove himself.

From a cursory look at the way both players are often discussed, the following would seem to sum them up.

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. Scion to a famous football dynasty, 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.

Both players are considered the best quarterbacks of their generation and are shoe-ins for the Hall of Fame. But beyond the superficial there's another story. 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, 199th overall, and only got a chance to prove his mettle when Drew Bledsoe was injured in 2001.

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