We Go Deep: Drew Brees-Peyton Manning Rivalry Rekindled As Alma Maters Meet

Posted on December 29, 2021 - Last Updated on January 4, 2022

Quarterbacking royalty Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are going head to head once again. Their alma maters — the Tennessee Volunteers and Purdue Boilermakers — will meet Thursday at the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

Manning and Brees are truly on the Mount Rushmore for their generation (can we get Cal and Michigan to play each other too?), and both have turned into notable pitchmen for sports betting apps too. Just like in their playing days, and still now in their broadcasting days, Tennesseans can’t get these guys off their TVs as they shill for Caesars Sportsbook and PointsBet (which is not live here… yet).

We take a look at each team’s golden boy and see who wins the mythical matchup between these two before their old teams settle another score on Thursday.

Drew Brees: Texas boy joins NFL’s all-time elite

Before launching his professional career, Brees got his start playing college football in West Lafayette. A Texas boy, Brees played for coach Joe Tiller at Purdue from 1997 to 2000. He set a Big Ten career record by recording 11,517 total passing yards.

His college years also saw him become a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, a two-time First Team All-Conference choice, and a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist.

Brees retains Purdue’s career record with 1,062 completions in 1,678 attempts for 11,792 yards and 90 touchdowns. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 1998 and 2000, and the Maxwell Award winner in 2000.

Moreover, Brees established two NCAA records, 13 Big Ten Conference records and 19 Purdue records during his time in college.

Once drafted into professional play, the QB’s gale-force momentum continued, including the mountain top of his career, which came with a certain No. 18 on the opposing sideline on Feb. 7, 2010.

Drew’s top NFL accolades include:

  • Super Bowl XLIV (Champ & MVP)
  • NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2011)
  • Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2006)
  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2004)
  • First-team All-Pro (2006)

He then hung up his helmet at the end of the 2020 season, announcing his retirement after 20 seasons of pro ball, starting with the San Diego Chargers and, most notably, his time with the New Orleans Saints.

Drew Brees partners with PointsBet

Brees may have called it quits on the field, but he certainly hasn’t made his full departure from the sport. In fact, he’s living his “bet life” now that he’s become brand ambassador for PointsBet. This Australian sports betting company announced it had partnered up with the NFL’s all-time passing yard leader this past July.

As part of the multi-year deal, Brees became the face of a range of commercials explaining how others can begin living their bet life.

This one released in October where Brees likens scaling a mountain with your bar buddies to hitting the last leg of a same-game parlay.


Like Manning alongside his brother Eli on ESPN’s alternate Monday Night Football coverage on the ManningCast, NFL fans still can see plenty of Brees during regular programming too.

Brees is now an analyst each week during NBC’s Sunday Night Football coverage.

Peyton Manning: King of football’s most famous family

A boyhood Louisiana superstar with a famous father, Peyton Manning joined the Vols in 1994.

Manning then made his way into the pros where he earned the nickname The Sheriff and quickly became known as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Manning’s top professional awards include:

  • Super Bowl Champ (XLI and 50)
  • Super Bowl XLI MVP
  • NFL Most Valuable Player (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013)
  • Offensive Player of the Year (2004, 2013)
  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2012)
  • Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2005)
  • First-Team All-Pro (2003-05, 2008-09, 2012-13)

The Manning family merges with Caesars

Much like Brees joined forces with PointsBet, Manning teamed up with Caesars. Most recently, he appeared on the Thanksgiving with Caesar and Cleo ad, where he is a guest at a royal Thanksgiving dinner.

In the commercial, Caesar makes a toast suggesting that betting was originally an activity enjoyed by the pilgrims, which is why the holidays are such a festive time for the sports betting public.

But Manning, who has acting chops from his myriad of commercials and a memorable Saturday Night Live appearance, rebuffs JB Smoove’s character in the spot.

Have a look, though we’re sure you’ve probably seen it on football Sundays.


Manning stars in the spot alongside his father, Archie, and brothers, Eli and Cooper.

Cooper’s son, Arch, is one of the nation’s leading high school football recruits too, so don’t think you’ve heard the last of the Manning crew anytime soon.

Vols vs. Purdue odds

Let’s be honest: Tennesseeans are giving the pitchman edge to Peyton, a favored son here. And while Brees is truly one of the game’s greats, Manning really is a cut above in the next tier.

Not to pile on with Vols wins here, but sportsbooks expect Tennessee to also have the upper hand against Purdue in the Music City Bowl.

Volunteer State sports betting apps currently situate odds as follows:

Sportsbooks give the Vols the hometown advantage here, positioning them with odds against Purdue, who holds odds.

Tennessee’s 7-5 season record (4-4 conference record) situated them with a third-place SEC East finish under new head coach Josh Heupel.

Purdue, on the other hand, enters the bowl with a slightly more impressive 8-4 season record (6-3 conference). Their performance under fifth-year head coach Jeff Brohm awarded them a fourth-place rank in the B10 West.

The Boilermakers are currently given a -point spread on Tennessee, though the line continues to fluctuate as the game draws near.

This meeting is expected to be a high-scoring one with the over/under set at points.

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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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