Bill Belichick was among the first to know — at a certain level — about the number of rodeos Peyton Manning had left.
And the Patriots coach admitted the respect he had for the retiring Broncos quarterback, though it comes with a measure of relief as well.
Via Field Yates of ESPN, Belichick was among the many to send his regards to Manning upon today’s retirement.
“It is with great admiration that I congratulate Peyton Manning for his tremendous career in the National Football League,” Belichick said. “Peyton raised the bar as a performer and as a competitor and with a personal class in which he carried himself off the field. My relationship with Peyton is special, it is unique and it is one that I value greatly. For 18 years, we battled fiercely but regardless of each game’s outcome, I always walked off the field with the utmost appreciation for the highest level of competition in which those games were prepared for and played. Peyton’s immense contributions to the game reflect how genuinely passionate he is about it.
“I can honestly say that I never ‘enjoyed’ our meetings, but the respect I have for Peyton Manning as a competitor was, and will likely remain, second to none.”
The foreshadowing for today’s press conference began in earnest when microphones picked up Manning telling Belichick “This might be my last rodeo” after the AFC Championship Game.
And while Peyton got to ride off into the sunset, Belichick won 12 of the 20 games against Manning with the Colts and Broncos, making him one of the few who were able to put a saddle on Manning.