May 28, 2018
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Elite QBs running out of time to claim another Super Bowl

Matthew Emmons | USA Today Sports
Matthew Emmons | USA Today Sports
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shake hands after the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in this January 2014 file photo.
By Simon Evans, Reuters

They have already tasted the feeling of winning a Super Bowl but if quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees want to win another Vince Lombardi Trophy they better hurry up.

The talented trio have long established themselves as elite National Football League quarterbacks with each breaking records and winning plaudits but age is catching up with them.

This season, with strong rosters to support them, may mark their best, and perhaps final, chance of winning the ultimate prize again.

New England Patriots quarterback Brady, 37, has three Super Bowl rings tucked away thanks to his triumphs in the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons but since then his two trips to the title game have ended in defeat to the New York Giants.

Manning, 38, won his ring with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, but lost out with the Colts three seasons later when Brees won his solitary ring with the New Orleans Saints.

Many expected Manning to add ring number two last season but his Denver Broncos team collapsed to a humiliating 43-8 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in the championship game.

While Brady’s numbers have indicated he may be in a gradual decline already, his supporters point out that the Patriots were hit by injuries last season and that this time, New England look to have assembled a roster with plenty of good targets for one of the best arms in the game.

Brady, however, knows that all the offseason talk and predictions count for nothing and it is how a team responds when results really matter that counts.

“There’s a lot of mental toughness that comes into play. A lot of discipline and work ethic, decision-making that really doesn’t play out in August or September,” he said in a recent radio interview.

“Everyone feels pretty good this time of year — everyone is hopeful. Every team thinks they are a lot better than what they were at the end of last season, but nobody knows. You are going to have to go out there and prove it.”

Manning is coming off a stellar 2013 NFL season in which he broke Brady’s single-season record of 50 touchdown passes with 55 and eclipsed by one yard Brees’s mark for passing yards in one season with 5,477.

But his two interceptions and shaky performance in the Super Bowl left him with nothing to show for his outstanding regular season and questions being raised about whether he will ever win that second prize.

The Broncos roster has been built with instant success in mind with most of the key components at an age where they know they have few chances remaining.

“Guys know what’s at stake this year, at least they should — it’s Super Bowl or bust for us,” Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. told ESPN.

Brees, 35, is the youngest of the trio of quarterbacks but has already claimed a series of records, including 54 straight games with a touchdown pass and the best completion percentage in a season (71.2 percent in the 2011 season).

While Brady and Manning have both looked after themselves well enough to be at the very top until late in their thirties, Brees says he intends to stick around much longer.

In an interview with the website, Brees said he wants to play well into his forties.

“I really think I can. I think that probably tests human limits. Your biology, your physical makeup, whatever,” said the Saints quarterback.

“You always want to be somebody who’s pushing the limits like that. Doing something that somebody says is impossible or nearly impossible, or nobody’s ever done it. Of course you want to test that. The competitor in you wants to test those limits.

“I don’t wanna just be bumming around this league at age 45. I want to be playing at a high level,” he said.

It is hard to imagine any of the trio ‘bumming around’ in the NFL after being part of a golden generation of quarterbacks but it will be fascinating to see if any of them can get another one of those chunky gold rings before they finally call time on their illustrious careers.


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