The competitive nature. The never-rattled attitude. Leadership.
Those are just a few of the similarities.
What Saturday also sees is a quarterback who won’t succumb to the pressure of being the highest-paid player in NFL history, just as Manning didn’t when he landed his big contract in 2004.
“Here’s the thing I think about with both those guys and that I appreciate so much about them: They both put that pressure on themselves before those [contract] numbers ever came into play,” Saturday said. “If you ask the equipment guys or the training staff or ask the coaching staff, anybody who has been around Luck or been around Peyton and they'll tell you those guys are grinders. They love the game of football; they spend all the time necessary to get better."
Saturday spent 13 seasons with the Colts, where he and Manning started an NFL-record 170 games together. He was also there when Manning landed his seven-year, $99.2 million contract that included a then-record $34.5 million signing bonus in 2004. Luck signed a six-year, $140 million contract, the largest in NFL history, last month.
“I think both of those guys felt they were or going to do their very best to win a championship respective of their pay,” said Saturday, now an ESPN NFL analyst. “Their performance allowed them to be the highest paid at their position or be classified at the top of their position. Good for them. I don’t think it changes who they are. I think with both those guys and the type of pressure they put on themselves, I don’t think they change at all. I think they look at it as they’re going to continue on the same journey that they were on and try to help their teams win championships.”
Looking at the numbers, Luck has the edge over Manning in most categories through the first 55 starts of their careers despite having a down year in 2015.
Luck is coming off the worst season of his four-year NFL career. Not only did he miss nine games due to injury, but he also committed 13 turnovers and only completed 55.3 percent of his pass attempts. Owner Jim Irsay said shortly after giving Luck his new deal that there was no hesitation in paying the quarterback despite his struggles in 2015.
“Listen, I think Andrew Luck is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL,” Saturday said. “Including last year and his struggles, I would still take him over a large majority of quarterbacks in the NFL right now, and I think he’s only getting better. From a perspective, they paid him at the right time.”
Luck will forever be linked as the player who replaced Manning in Indianapolis after the Colts released Manning in March 2012. They selected Luck with the No. 1 overall pick a month later.