This also marked the final time Peyton Manning would face Ray LeWIS on the football field. After that 38-35 overtime loss to Baltimore in 2013, Manning waited an hour and a half to congratulate LeWIS.
“It shows you the type of person he is and also shows you the respect that he has for me,” LeWIS said last week. “He loses a game of that magnitude, and he comes in and spends an hour with me. It’s just him. That’s Peyton and that’s our relationship that nobody really knows.”
— Chad Steele (@CSteele32) January 13, 2013
LeWIS recently sat down with Manning for the ESPN+ series Peyton’s Places, which commemorates the NFL’s 100th anniversary. In addition to picking apart crabs, LeWIS and Manning playfully went head-to-head once again.
Just like so many times in games, LeWIS immediately applied pressure to Manning during the show, asking him why he hadn’t addressed defense yet in his series. Manning’s first episodes focused on Fred Biletnikoff, Roger Staubach and Raymond Berry.
Manning recalled the times at Pro Bowls where he tried to schmooze LeWIS by buying his drinks and dinner. He even purchased clubs for LeWIS before finding out the Hall of Fame middle linebacker didn’t play golf.
While LeWIS and Manning enjoy a friendship now — exchanging pictures of their children through text messages — they were part of one of the league’s greatest chess matches.
Manning and LeWIS are longtime students of the game who became masters at outwitting opponents. Manning called his play at the line after analyzing the defense, while LeWIS prided himself on predicting the play by picking up on tendencies and formations.
“You just kind of get two brains going,” LeWIS said of his 10 showdowns with Manning. “Sometimes I walk up to the line and I’ll say something that has nothing to do with football to him.”
Standing at the line, Manning would scan the defense before checking his wristband. He then shouted at his teammates to his left and right, gyrating his arms and hands.
Move after countermove, LeWIS and Manning engaged in these mind games.
“There’s many a time when I’ve heard Ray calling out our plays, and he’s been pretty accurate at times,” Manning said.
LeWIS called Manning the “hardest person in the world to prepare for” because he was such a gunslinger.
“I think us sitting down in that setting [for the show] gave us a real opportunity to express how much we respect each other,” LeWIS said. “If you were a step off, he’s going to cost you. Those moments are some of the moments you remember because he’s such a great friend.”
When it comes to quarterbacks, Manning is at the top of LeWIS’ list. As for picking steamed crabs — which Manning attempted with LeWIS’ help — let’s say the five-time NFL Most Valuable Player dropped the ball.
“Not good, not good,” LeWIS said, shaking his head with a smile. “He’s got to work on that. He’s going to have to come and go through a tutorial.”