Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the most respected player in the NFL, according to a poll conducted by ESPN of more than 320 players from the league.
One of the runners up is Manning's opponent this Sunday, quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, who will face Manning and the Broncos for the AFC Championship and the right to play in the Super Bowl. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP, tied Brady for the second most votes behind Manning.
Manning received 27 percent of the vote (86 players) when the players were asked who is the most respected player in the league, while Brady and Peterson each received 24 votes.
Rounding out the list is Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson with 15 votes; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees with 13 votes; and Green Back Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher each receiving 11 votes.
The 37-year-old Manning, a 13-time Pro Bowler and four-time NFL MVP, said he entered the league as a young player who sought to earn the respect of both his teammates and opponents:
"It's always nice when you are paid respect by your opponents, the guys you play against. I know as a young player in the NFL, I remember some of my goals were to establish the respect of my coaches, my own teammates and then my opponents...Football is a game where mutual respect between opponents is what all players strive for. It makes the game better."NIESEN: Champ Bailey finds unique source of inspiration in quest for first ring