Surprised Peyton Manning sees ‘tough’ Tom Brady-Buccaneers hurdle

Count Peyton Manning among those surprised that Tom Brady jumped ship after 20 years as a Patriot and signed with the Buccaneers — just perhaps not for the same reason as everybody else.

When Manning left Indianapolis after 13 years as a Colt, albeit under much different circumstances, he stayed in the AFC and signed with the Broncos. Brady is taking his talents to the NFC for a change, something that Manning said his fellow future Hall of Famer will have to adjust to.

“That was interesting,” Manning said Sunday on “SportsCenter”. “I’ve talked to Tom at different times, but never really about that actual decision. He seems happy, he seems excited. I’m a little surprised he jumped over to the NFC. I always see Tom Brady as an AFC guy, so he’s going to have to go through initiation to learn the ropes of the NFC.”

The NFC South won’t be rolling out the red carpet for him, either.

“He’s got a tough division,” Manning added. “I don’t think the Saints and the Falcons and the Panthers are going to just let the Bucs kind of roll into town, so it should make for some interesting divisional games and matchups.”

Manning didn’t play a single snap in his final year with the Colts after undergoing neck surgery and spinal fusion surgery. He still had four years left on his contract, but with the Colts set to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, they released Manning.

After being courted by a handful of teams, including some in the NFC like the Cardinals and 49ers, the 35-year-old Manning signed a five-year, $96 million deal with the Broncos, where he won another Super Bowl.

Now, the 42-year-old Brady is the one chasing a Super Bowl with a second team after signing a two-year, $50 million deal with the Bucs. He’ll do so under a few of Manning’s former coaches. Head coach Bruce Arians was Manning’s quarterbacks coach for his first three years in the league, offensive consultant Tom Moore was his offensive coordinator for 12 years and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen was his offensive coordinator for three years.

“They got a great team around him, it sounds like,” Manning said. “Tom is going down there to get coached by some guys who I’m very familiar with, guys that know football, that love football. Everybody knows how hard he’s going to work.”

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