Brady never left his original team, but Montana found success in a new environment. Both of them came back strong after their respective injuries, proving that Manning's relocation and attempt at a new phase of his career has the potential to be profitable for him and his new team.
It is fair to point out, however, that neither Montana nor Brady were able to claim the ultimate prize after their respective season-ending injuries (though Brady still has the chance to change that).
Let's take a walk back in time and see how both of these legendary quarterbacks performed after getting a second lease on life in the NFL.
Montana went down in the 1990 NFC Championship game against the New York Giants with an elbow injury, and it took him almost two years to get back on the field.
Once he was ready to start playing again, Montana was no longer the best option at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, as Steve Young had emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL—a situation Manning can surely relate to.
The 49ers and Montana parted ways after the 1992 season, and Montana signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent the next two seasons.
In his first season with the Chiefs, Montana took his new team to the AFC Championship game, having led two game-winning drives in the playoffs to get there. Ultimately, the Chiefs lost to the Buffalo Bills, but Montana was a huge reason that the team got as far as it did.
Montana's second season with the Chiefs, and last season as a pro, ended with a loss in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Miami Dolphins.
Montana's comeback can only be described as a rousing success, though he did fall short of the pinnacle.
Brady won three Super Bowls in four years, winning in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Following that, in 2006, he lost in the AFC Championship to Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts, who went on to beat the Chicago Bears and win the Super Bowl, and the following year, he lost to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Then, after missing the entire preseason in 2008 while still recovering from a foot injury suffered in the AFC Championship game in 2007, Brady was knocked out for the entire 2008 season when Bernard Pollard launched into his knee, which tore ligaments in his ACL and MCL.
Brady returned in 2009 after missing 15 starts, and his performance that season was good, but not great. He finished the season with a record of 10-6, and the Pats lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens.
The next year, Brady returned to form during the regular season, winning NFL MVP honors and taking home the AP's Offensive Player of the Year award. The Pats finished the season with an impressive 13-3 record, but they were once again ousted in their first playoff game, this time in the divisional round to the New York Jets.
Brady and the Patriots went all the way to the Super Bowl in his third season back from his catastrophic knee injury. He was superb throughout the 2011 season, throwing for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns. In the end, though, the Pats were once again beaten in the Super Bowl by Manning and the Giants.
It remains to be seen whether or not Brady will ever win another ring. He hasn't been able to do it since his injury, but you can hardly place the blame on his shoulders.
Judging by the performances of Montana and Brady, and using what we've seen from Manning so far in 2012, it's clear that we can expect this legendary quarterback to have a good run at the end of his career.
Manning would buck the trend, though, if he ends up taking the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVII and winning, though I surely won't put it past him to do it.
It won't be entirely up to Manning. The Broncos are an interesting team with a young defense that can be dominant at times, but that can also look shady at times.
He's bringing in an entirely new offense, using the no-huddle with a new group of offensive linemen and receivers, and I'll be shocked if the rest of his 2012 season goes as smoothly as the team's first game.
I do know one thing: It's going to be fun to track Manning and the Broncos throughout the 2012 season, and nothing the team does will surprise me, good or bad.
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