By Frank Pingue
PHOENIX (Reuters) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hopes his counterpart with the Denver Broncos, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, returns for another NFL season.
Manning has been non-committal about his future plans following a crushing playoff loss to his former team the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago but Brady on Thursday was clear about what he hopes the 38-year-old record-setting quarterback decides.
"I certainly hope he comes back because the league will miss him if he doesn't," said Brady, whose Patriots will play the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's Super Bowl.
"Those decisions are up to him. I'm sure it's up to him whether he's mentally and physically, if that’s what he wants to do. I certainly hope he's back."
The two quarterbacks, considered among the game's all-time greats, have had several classic matchups, including last year's AFC championship where Manning completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns.
Manning, who will turn 39 in March, has said he does not plan on making a decision about his career until undergoing a physical examination.
The Broncos quarterback suffered a neck injury that forced him to miss the entire 2011 NFL season. He returned from injury a year later with Denver and went on to claim his fifth most valuable player award for the 2013 season.
"What a great player he's been for this league," said Brady. "He's a great competitor, and I've been fortunate to play against him a bunch of times."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)