Visit in 2011 and circling stadium to sign autographs. In Manning's last season with the Colts, when he didn't play all year because of a neck injury, he still made the trip for a Dec. 4 game to support teammates from the sideline. In the hours leading up to kickoff, Manning circled the stadium and signed hundreds of autographs that day. Many of the autographs were for Patriots fans, with Manning later saying they couldn't have been nicer. Meanwhile, after the game, Manning connected with Tom Brady in the tunnel outside the visitors' locker room. The two shared a behind-the-scenes embrace and Brady introduced his wife Gisele Bunchden to him at that time.
Huard gets game ball for playing role of Manning in practice prior to the 2003 AFC title game. On SportsCenter Sunday, Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi discussed how important the scout-team quarterback was the week before facing Manning. Along those lines, Bill Belichick gave backup Damon Huard a game ball following the 2003 AFC title game for his work as Manning in practice.
Belichick and Manning at the Pro Bowl. When Belichick coached the AFC team in the Pro Bowl in Feb. 2007 and Manning was playing in the game, the two enjoyed the experience. The image of them standing together was notable for its uniqueness.
Never to be underestimated. Less than two months ago, as the Patriots prepared to visit the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, Belichick said, "Peyton's a great player. We've had tremendous battles against him through the years. There's no player off our team that I have any more respect for than Peyton Manning. So his preparation, his consistency, his skills, I would never ever, ever underestimate him under any circumstances." Two games later, Manning, with the help of a smothering defense, was a Super Bowl champion.