Saturday: Manning at ‘a different level’ than Brady

Based purely on pedigree, Jeff Saturday might be the last player you’d expect to appear on NFL Network’s “The Top 100 Players of 2011” series.

An undrafted rookie out of North Carolina, Saturday was signed and quickly cut loose by the Baltimore Ravens before quietly catching on with the Indianapolis Colts in 1999.

The rest is history. Saturday has been with the Colts ever since, becoming one of the game’s elite centers, not to mention Peyton Manning‘s most trusted on-field confidant.

Saturday’s continued excellence landed him at No. 59 on the “Top 100” list, as voted by NFL players.

The five-time Pro Bowler called into the “Top 100” after-show on Sunday night to discuss his inclusion on the list.

“Anytime that you get mentioned up in these lists, obviously we’re moving closer and closer, you’re honored that all the players who you’re playing against feel that way about you and put you up on the list,” he said.

The conversation eventually veered toward the quarterback position, with Saturday making the case for his guy as the No. 1 signal-caller in the league.

“Listen, nothing against (Tom) Brady, obviously I got a ton of respect for him, but man, Peyton, he’s a different level,” Saturday said. “With as many MVPs as he’s had, the guy shows up each and every week ready to play and his numbers support it.”

Saturday points at Manning’s 33-touchdown season in 2010 as a great example of the QB’s greatness.

“You look at last year, we were pulling guys out of the stands at the end of the year to throw it to and his numbers are staying where they should,” he said. “As you get down closer (on the list), I think he’s got to be your one.”

Ten players are revealed each week from the Top 100 list, which airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Next week will count down numbers 50 through 41.

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