AP — As quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning prepare to face off once again in this Sunday’s AFC Championship game, what is their biggest concern? The defenses they will face? The weather in Denver?
“That post-game kiss,” Manning says, with a wry smile. “We’ve been doing it now for I don’t know how many years, and it still makes me nervous.”
Brady echoes the thoughts of his rival. “It’s still kind of awkward, even though we’ve tried to practice it off the field. Do I go right or left? Do I take his hand at the same time? Will there be tongue?”
Manning admits that, any time he faces the Patriots, he spends hours reviewing tape of past smooches between himself and Brady. “You’re always looking for a little advantage. Like, does Tom close one eye or both before he leans in? Does he leave his helmet on? Details like that can be the difference between a good kiss and a season-ending lip injury.”
Manning has long been considered one of the greatest regular season post-game kissers, but in the playoffs, his lips have often let him down. “His lips get dry and chapped in the post-season,” said an NFL scout, “whereas Brady’s lips are always smooth and baby soft, even outdoors in January.”
“I have to go easy on Peyton now,” Brady says, with a grin. “It used to be, after we’d shellacked the Colts yet again, I’d bend Peyton backwards and really lay one on him. But that was before all the neck surgery. Now I usually just kind of brush his lips with mine.”
Neither quarterback feels that these concerns distract from their actual game preparation. “Belichick’s already stolen whatever game plan we have, plus all my signals and audibles,” Manning concedes. “I think he even has my Netflix password. Anyway, there’s really no point in practicing football.”
“Yeah, Bill will give me the game plan this week, blah, blah, blah,” Brady says. “It’s always the same: Cheat better.”
It’s been reported that the Patriots are preparing for Manning by putting back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo in a wheelchair and making him throw with his left hand.
“I just hope Tom shaves before the game,” Manning adds. “Giselle might like kissing that scruff, but I don’t.”