Sept. 30, 2001: Brady, in his first start, faces the Colts and their young quarterback Peyton Manning. The Patriots won, though neither quarterback played particularly well that day—Brady’s passer rating was 79.2 while Manning’s was just 48.2. Neither player knew at the time that they had just started what would become the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Brady and Manning, though never in the same division, would go on to play in 17 games, four of which were AFC Championships. Brady won the overall series though Manning-helmed teams beat Brady’s Pats three of four times in the postseason.
Though a fiercely competitive rivalry, Manning and Brady had a shared respect. When Manning announced his retirement at the end of last year, Brady was one of the first calls he made, and he named “that handshake with Tom Brady” as one of the aspects of the NFL he’ll miss most.