It's no secret that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick admires former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
On Sunday, Belichick gave a lengthy explanation about how much respect he has for the legendary signal-caller on the same day the Broncos announced his retirement following an 18-year career.
Per Field Yates of ESPN.com, Belichick pointed out Manning's class among other qualities he will miss:
It is with great admiration that I congratulate Peyton Manning for his tremendous career in the National Football League. 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.
Manning faced Belichick's team 20 times over his career and went 8-12. However, he beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game during both of his Super Bowl runs, including this past season.
Following the Broncos' victory over the Patriots in their AFC Championship Game matchup in January, Manning met up with Belichick at midfield and seemed to share the same feelings the coach has.
“Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure,” Manning said, per Yates.
Manning's second Super Bowl victory helped cement his status as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, as he retires as the NFL record holder for career passing touchdowns (539) and yards (71,940).
Even though Belichick and Manning were adversaries in the public eye, it's no surprise that there is mutual respect, considering both are fierce competitors and extremely successful.
When Belichick's coaching days are over, there is no doubt that Manning will share similar thoughts when looking back on his career.