Eli Manning's reaction to Tom Brady's retirement after 22 seasons sums up the sigh of relief that many opposing players and teams must feel after all those years of losing to the NFL legend.
"I just thought, 'Finally,'" Manning said on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday. "I mean, the guy's 44 years old."
And this is coming from the rare quarterback who famously had an edge over Brady, having led the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl victories over Brady's New England Patriots.
Manning is three years younger than Brady and retired two years ago, so he could only marvel at how Brady continued to play and win as the oldest player in the NFL.
"He's incredible, really. At 44 years old, his 22nd year in the NFL, he maybe had one of his better seasons, and up for the MVP," he said.
Following Brady's retirement announcement on Tuesday, Manning shared a video message on Twitter saluting his old rival.
"Hey Tom just want to congratulate you on an unbelievable NFL career," Manning said in the video. "Twenty-two years, seven Super Bowls, multiple MVPs, I mean really no one did it better than you during your time.
"It was an honor and privilege just to watch you compete, watch you play and to do it at such a high level for so long. In your 22nd year you were playing as good as you ever were."
But of course, he wasn't going to let Brady off the hook without one last mention of the Giants' two Super Bowl wins. Manning and the Giants beat Brady and the Patriots in the 2008 and 2012 Super Bowls.
"That’s a pretty impressive career right there, so good luck in retirement, congratulations on an unbelievable career, and I appreciate your generosity in at least sharing a few of those Super Bowls with me," he said. "All the best, pal."
Manning also reacted to an "only in New York" tweet by NBC's local affiliate on Tuesday about Brady's retirement. The message went viral for taking a dig at Brady's career in New England.
"Tom Brady, who lost 2 Super Bowls to the Giants during his legendary 22-year NFL career, retires," NBC New York's message said.
Manning said his older brother Cooper flagged the funny tweet to him.
"I just laughed at it, like, how could that be a headline?" Manning said. "Obviously that's a New York affiliate, that's the way they went about it."
Manning also gave his reaction to a much more serious topic: a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores alleging racial discrimination against the NFL, New York Giants and other teams.
Flores, who is Black, was fired from the Dolphins in January. Among his allegations, he claimed the Giants conducted a sham interview with him after they had already decided on their head coach in order to satisfy the league's “Rooney Rule," which mandates teams must interview a minority candidate for head coach, general manager and top assistant positions.
“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations,” the league said in a statement.
Manning told TODAY he felt the league was "doing a lot of good things."
"Every team is looking at the best possible candidates, minority candidates, to make sure they're in those head positions as the head coach, and coordinators, GMs. And so I think the NFL will continue to strive and make sure that everybody gets a fair chance, gets a fair look to get some of those head positions," he said.
Asked if he felt the league needed to do more, Manning said, "I think so," and pointed to the fact that there is only one minority head coach in the league at the moment, though a handful of top jobs are open.
"The NFL can definitely look at more options to make sure they're doing everything possible to give everybody a fair chance at those positions," he said.