It seemed necessary today, before posting the usual weekend stuff (picks, injury report, redux) to try to wax a little poetic about Sunday’s game between Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts and Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. It’s the first time in a decade on the beat I won’t be making the trip, we will chat from the Indy couch, and it’s a game you hate to miss because of the QBs involved.

While the other subplots are interesting, be it Patriots coach Bill Belichick trying to dial up a defense in his chess game with Manning, the underdog Colts trying to continue their playoff push while running the injury gauntlet, or just two of the best AFC teams getting it on as boxing ref Mills Lane used to say, these games resonate because of the biggest stars.

Manning vs. Brady. The Patriots’ QB has a 7-4 edge on the Colts’ QB, but Manning has beaten NE five of the last six times they’ve met (Brady missed a game due to injury). Brady won his first NFL start in 2001 against the Colts. The three-time Super Bowl winner against the four-time NFL MVP.

We don’t gush too often in this business because it’s about reporting and writing stories for readers. We can’t be fans too often, but sometimes rules are broken. Sometimes, you can’t help it. When these two guys are on the same field, I can’t help but be a fan of the game.

Like so many, I have marveled at Brady’s rise to stardom, how he’s matured into one of the game’s best winners of all-time, and especially when he rocks back and fires that deep ball. I don’t know too many who zing a ball 50 yards down the field like this guy.

The same admiration, while typically not overstated because it’s so obvious, exists for Manning. Nobody, in my opinion, has ever had as much control at the line of scrimmage and run an offense like No. 18. Critics can say what they want, but typically each week, you see this guy make his share of plays with his head, checking to the call after reading that defense, or just fitting the football into a tight spot on some ridiculous back-shoulder throw. It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, even when you’re used to it, you can’t help but think at that moment how fortunate you are to see that kind of talent. As a Jacksonville media type said after one of Manning’s incredible throws to Reggie Wayne, who didn’t turn around and look for the ball until it was almost there earlier this year, “That’s just sick. You can’t defend that.” Manning has always contended there’s no defense for the perfect throw.

I asked Brady one question on our conference call this week. It’s known as an ice-breaker and also a softball, when you start off a phone interview with an obvious question that is easy for a player to hit out of the proverbial park. He was asked to put into perspective how much Manning has helped motivate him to be a better quarterback from the rivalry they have had over the years.

“I mean, he’s an incredible player,” Brady said. “The thing that I love (in) watching him is his consistency. He’s such a competitive player and being around him, in the experience that I’ve had around him, it’s no surprise why he’s such a great player. He loves the game. He loves studying it. He loves talking about it. I think we definitely have that in common. It’s a great matchup and I think both our team and the Colts have been winning a lot of games over the last 10 years. We’ve had some great games between the two teams and I’m expecting this game to be the same.”

Manning has often referred to the QB fraternity with admiration. He likes to see the position played well. And you can tell the respect he has for Brady is mutual. Speaking to New England media on his conference call, Manning was asked if he and Brady, on a subconscious level, have pushed each other the last decade.

“That’s probably a little,” Manning said, “you mentioned subconscious, that’s pretty deep for me. I’m not sure I’m that much of a thinker. I don’t have the ability to answer that kind of question. I’m not really sure. All I can say about Tom … and I feel like it’s pretty well-documented what I think about him as a player, just what he’s been able to do with his career up there in New England. He has just been outstanding. He’s gotten better every year. I know from talking to our defensive players what kind of challenge it is to get ready to play against his ability to make big-time throws, his ability to look off defenders, to read the defenses. It’s always been a real challenge when you’re playing against Tom and his teams because even though you’re worried about the defense, you know you’re going to have to score points because he’s going to be able to put up points for their offense.”

A reporter asked Manning about an obvious comparison to one of the NBA’s greatest rivalries, Magic vs. Bird. They were legends who resurrected their sport at a professional level. I grew up a huge Magic fan and have had the pleasure of being in Indy, talking to Bird maybe once or twice while developing an understanding for how this state has idolized him, from Indiana State to the Boston Celtics. I don’t know that Manning and Brady have resurrected the NFL, it was doing pretty well when they arrived, but it’s fair to say both QBs lift up the game to so many when they are going against each other. It’s must-see TV.

“I think it’s hard,” Manning said of the comparison to Magic vs. Bird. “I can’t speak for Tom, but I think he would certainly see it the same way I do. I think it’s kind of hard right in the middle of our careers to think about something like that just because we’re right in the middle of it right now. I know how I see it; I still see it as team versus team. (In) basketball, maybe there is a little more – even though it’s a team sport – maybe there’s a little more one-on-one to it because there are just five guys out there. Football still is the ultimate team sport. No question there have been some great games between the Colts and the Patriots during this past decade, and Tom and I have been the quarterbacks. It’s been an intense rivalry. There’s great respect between the two teams. It’s really hard for me just in the middle of the 2010 season to think about too much of the history and years past, especially this year with all that’s going on with our team. There are so many new players that we’re playing. (With) some of the challenges that we’ve faced, I’m really just focusing on this year. But, I just can’t say enough good things about their team and about their quarterback, Tom Brady.”

Same here, about both QBs. Regardless of the outcome, the part of me that is a true NFL fan, that special feeling often ignored for the sake of objectivity, reporting and writing worthy stories and making deadlines will, well, be enthralled. My only hope is that we will see these two guys on the same field for many more years to come.

When they are retired, we won’t be able to say we were cheated by these legends. We have, indeed, been most fortunate as passionate followers of NFL history.