Brees and Manning enjoying each other’s success

Drew Brees was a senior quarterback at Purdue, still riding the

emotional high from one of the biggest victories of his college

career, when he received a phone message that he remembers fondly

to this day.

“After we beat Ohio State – we came back in the end to beat

them – and all of a sudden on my voice mail after the game I have a

call from Peyton Manning that said, ‘Hey man, I watched the game,

congratulations,”’ Brees recalled. “I became a Peyton Manning fan

ever since based on that he called a young college guy like me to

tell me congratulations.”

Nearly a decade after the win that helped put Purdue in the Rose

Bowl, Brees and Manning are two of the top three quarterbacks in

the NFL in both yards passing and touchdown passes. They’ve also

combined to make NFL history by leading the only two teams to go

undefeated through 12 games in the same season.

There’s even a possibility their parallel pursuits of perfection

could collide in a first-ever Super Bowl between undefeated


“I would love for that to happen,” Brees said. “It would be


With Purdue’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind., Brees said he had

a few chances during his college years to go to Indianapolis to

watch Manning play for the Colts.

Their ties only grew when Brees signed as a free agent with the

Saints in 2006, moving to Manning’s hometown and stepping into the

role Manning’s father, Archie, held for 11 seasons.

It did not take long before Archie Manning and Brees became

friends, with the patriarch of New Orleans’ first family of

football showing Brees around the historic Uptown neighborhood

where the Mannings live and where Brees eventually bought a

century-old fixer-upper.

Early on, Brees would lean on Archie for advice on everything

from where to go out to eat to where to get his hair cut. He also

became friends with Archie Manning’s oldest son, Cooper, who lives

in New Orleans, and their wives are all friends as well.

Archie Manning and Brees regularly exchange text messages during

the season.

Peyton Manning, meanwhile, said he has enjoyed watching Brees’

success from afar this year, knowing that the long suffering fans

in his hometown finally have an elite team playing in the Louisiana


“Drew and I are friends,” Peyton Manning said this week. “My

family’s gotten to know him, and he’s a great guy. He’s had a great

year, playing at a high level this year, and I’ve been following

him for a long time.”

Last week, Brees passed Archie Manning for second in touchdown

passes for the Saints. Brees now has 117 to the elder Manning’s

115. With four more TD tosses, Brees will pass franchise leader

Aaron Brooks.

Archie Manning didn’t even entertain a debate of who is the best

Saints quarterback of all time, calling Brees “the best

quarterback they’ve ever had, period.”

Although the elder Manning has one son playing for Indianapolis

and another, Eli, playing for the New York Giants, he said he

probably enjoys football most while watching the Saints.

“If you want to know the truth, it’s six hours of stress on

Sunday afternoons if one of the boys is playing at 1 and the other

at 4. It’s hard watching your kids in that hard, tough, physical

environment,” Archie Manning said. “It’s different when you’ve

got a son playing and then you have the team where you grew up

playing. Drew has done a wonderful job here … and he is a classy

young man.”

Brees has thrown for 3,536 yards and a league-leading 29 TDs

this season. Peyton Manning has thrown for league-leading 3,686

yards and 25 TDs.

Archie Manning said he did not think it would be fair to get

into comparisons over who was having a better season, but added

that the Saints and Colts “have done the best job of the 32 team

this year, and there’s no question about that.”

For Brees, getting to 12-0 for the first time in what is now his

ninth season has instilled in him a sense of wonder regarding the

steady success Peyton Manning and the Colts have enjoyed year after


“The interesting thing is we’re sitting here 12-0 and this is

uncharted territory for a lot of us,” Brees said of the Saints.

“How many times have the Colts started off 8-0, 9-0, 10-0, 13-0,

12-0 now. … People forget how hard this is to do and yet the

Colts seem to find a way to be in that mix every year. They’ve won

12 or more games the last seven years in a row. That’s


Brees said that because of some common opponents the Saints and

Colts have every now and then, he winds up watching film of

Manning. Although Brees’ primary purpose is to learn more about a

defense he’ll be facing, “I’m also watching (Manning) a little bit

as a fan, because I have a tremendous amount of respect for the guy

and he’s one of the best to have ever played the game,” he


AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to

this report.