Tell me if you've heard this already, but Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are playing in a football game this weekend. Yeah, I know, it feels like their involvement in the AFC Championship Game has been criminally underreported, but that's where they'll be, and the winner gets to take his team to the Super Bowl.
Despite not playing in the same division and not even facing each other all that much in the playoffs over their respective Hall of Fame careers, Brady and Manning might have one of the biggest personal rivalries in sports today.
Is it a rivalry? The two quarterbacks genuinely seem to like each other. At the very least, they respect the hell out of each other and never say an ill word publicly, which takes a bit of the sting out of any sports rivalry.
Contemporaries, sure, but rivals? You bet.
Brady and Manning always seem to be one-upping each other's records. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos or both make the playoffs as Super Bowl favorites every year. Their matchups always seem to have more on the line than a simple team victory.
They may not be enemies—nemeses, if you will—but Manning and Brady are two of the biggest rivals in the NFL right now.
Where does their rivalry rank in all of sports? And what, for the purposes of this argument, makes two people rivals?
We've established that rivals don't have to hate each other, but a good amount of disdain surely helps. Begrudging respect doesn't hurt, either. Really, a good rivalry just has to have combatants on each side who raise their level of performance expressly because the other is involved.
A good rivalry becomes more memorable when both sides are battling for the same prize, and it becomes great when the stakes are so high that history has no choice but to take notice.
A great rivalry is something that will live on through future generations, like Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell, Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier and Jack Nicklaus vs. Arnold Palmer. Teams can be rivals—Ohio State and Michigan still may have the best rivalry in American sports—but for the purposes of this article, we've kept the list to personal rivalries.
What are some of the best rivalries in sports today, and where does Brady vs. Manning fit? Let's find out.