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Jim Nantz on Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: ‘This is as big as it gets’

01.14.14 at 7:19 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 14th time as starters Sunday night. (AP)

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the 15th time as starters Sunday. (AP)

CBS analysts Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason and play-by-play man Jim Nantz held a conference call Tuesday to discuss the Patriots-Broncos AFC title game. Here are a few highlights from that conference call

(On the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry)
Nantz: I think it transcends the NFL. This is something everyone wants to see. This is tantamount to Ali-€‘Frazier one more time. This is Palmer-Nicklaus. This is Bird-€‘Magic. I’m not trying to create some sort of synthetic drama here, but this is what it is. This is as big as it gets. We’re going to savor it because you don’t know how many more times we’ll get it again. You say Brady-Manning, I defy anyone to say there is anything that has been bigger in this league.

Simms: The word legacy, all these things who they are, I have fun with them and I hear it. Somebody said their legacies, both of them, are at stake in this game at this time. I don’t care what either one of them does in this game. It will never change what I think of them. If one of them goes out and has the worst game of his career and is the sole reason why they lose, it will not bring them down one single bit in my eyes. They’ve done so much for the league, and their teams, and themselves, there is nothing that can diminish it.

Esiason: Each one of these players this year really defines who they are. Peyton lifted and took a young group of receivers to a completely different level, and very few players are capable of doing that. And Tom Brady took a team basically that was more built around the run, broke through for 4,200 yards, and got them back all the way here to the AFC Championship game. I think really what speaks to the greatness of both of these quarterbacks, they both have, along with Bill Belichick, and I’m sure John Fox says this as well, a Ph.D. in high-€‘level thought processes that give them the opportunity to make these championship games each year.

(On what makes Brady and Manning the best of their generation)
Simms: We have two quarterbacks that are tough guys. Tom Brady, his attitude, staying on the field, the way he conducts himself with his football team mirrors his head coach. Peyton Manning, just to play the style of football he plays. Man, I get tired watching him and all the work. You’ve got to remember he does that every day in practice.

Esiason: The fact really is three words: longevity, consistency and success. Both of these guys have kind of been going in parallel lives to one another and now find themselves in the AFC Championship game. For Tom Brady it’s his eighth game with Bill Belichick. Nothing says greatness better or more than winning, especially at the highest level. Great moments require great people to do great things, and both of these players have accomplished that. I think I speak for Phil and every other quarterback that’s ever played the position, maybe with the exception of Joe Montana, that what you’re watching here are two guys that will go down as two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

(On what makes Bill Belichick so successful)
Simms: The thing that makes Bill so successful is that, in my eyes, it is truthfulness to his players. He tells them the truth. And it is raw, and it hurts. You’ve got to get used to that. But once you get used to it, it clarifies everything for you. You don’t have to walk around in your job and go, ‘€˜Oh, I wonder what Coach thinks of me or how am I doing?’€™ They let you know constantly. It is a rough way to play.

Read More: boomer esiason, Jim Nantz, Peyton Manning, Phil Simms
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