Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Bruce Arians was the first quarterback coach of Peyton Manning’s Hall of Fame career when he began his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. The two have a strong relationship and it’s why Arians is planning on traveling to Canton, Ohio for the 2021 NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony Sunday evening.
“I would say it’s a family thing – what the Manning family’s been for the NFL. It started with Archie. Obviously, I got to know Archie and Olivia and they’re great, great parents and have done a hell of a job. Peyton’s contribution is as big as it gets.”
“Taking two teams to the Super Bowl, and all the things that he’s done,” Arians continued. “But he’s a better teammate and a better friend than he is a player, which speaks volumes. And he also is a funny son of a b—h.”
Of course, Arians isn’t the only member of the Tampa Bay organization to have a strong relationship with Manning. Over the course of 17 years, quarterback Tom Brady and Manning faced each other 22 times. Brady had an 11-6 edge in those matchups, but Manning was 3-2 head-to-head in the postseason.
Arians said it was Brady’s idea for a group of the Bucs to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony, explaining that the two quarterbacks are more friendly than it may have seemed on the football field over the years.
“I don’t think people got to know how close they got later in their careers,” Arians said. “It wasn’t as adversarial as everybody thought it was. When you’re two guys in the stature they’re in, they’re about the only guys you can talk to. So, yeah, I think it speaks a lot about Tom. We’ve got a couple of coaches going up Saturday for some other guys, and the rest of us will go up Sunday and we’ll all come back Sunday night.”
One Buc who had the opportunity to play alongside and win a Super Bowl with Manning in Denver is outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett. A key member of Tampa Bay’s defense during the 2020 Super Bowl run, Barrett spoke about winning a championship with both Brady and Manning.
“I’m happy that I was able to play with Peyton, and I’m happy I’m able to play with Tom and win a Super Bowl with both of them is pretty awesome as well,” Barrett said. “Hopefully, we keep working, doing what we have to do so we can be in the same position as last year.”
“It’s amazing just to see their leadership and the way that they go about their business on a daily basis,” Barett added. “It’s just amazing to be a part of and then try to take anything from them because they have been doing this [for] really long at a high level. You want to try to do whatever you can to imitate any of that type of success – it’s just been amazing to watch.”
The 2021 NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on the NFL Network. Eight new members will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as members of the 2021 class including Manning.
Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason updates, and other news and analysis. Follow along on social media at @SIBuccaneers on Twitter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.