(SportsNetwork.com) - Life is rarely fair and that's exemplified at any
Manning family reunion where baby brother Eli can show off his two Super Bowl
rings, one more than his much more accomplished older sibling Peyton.
It's almost laughable to compare the two as players.
Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history en route to
his record fifth MVP award and coming off perhaps the best statistical season
in NFL history, breaking multiple NFL passing records, most notably the
single-season marks for touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477), while
piloting an offense which led the league in scoring (37.9 points per game) and
totaled the most points (606) in league lore.
Eli, on the other hand, is an above-average signal caller fresh off a
miserable year in which he threw a league-high 27 interceptions, completed
just 57.5 percent of his passes -- an egregious number in today's pass-happy
NFL -- and finished with a dismal passer rating of 69.4 for the 7-9 New York
Giants, a team which placed a Super Bowl countdown clock in its own locker
room and fancied itself as a legitimate title contender before the season
"I think Peyton's already created his own legacy," Eli said on a conference
call earlier this week. "He's played at a very high level for a long period of
time and he's overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records and been on
a lot of playoff teams.
"I don't think (his legacy is) something that he's worried about. There will
always be arguments about who is the greatest. I think if you're in that
argument, if you're one of the names thrown around in there, I think you've
already created a pretty good legacy. I don't think he's worried about that.
He's a competitor and he wants to win championships, because that's what your
job is as a football player, to win games. I think that's all he's thinking
Whatever Peyton is thinking about, perception is reality and the tag of
coming up small in big games has haunted him since his college days at the
University of Tennessee, where former Florida coach Steve Spurrier used to
pile on Manning and the Volunteers by saying, "You can't spell Citrus without
UT," a reference to the Vols' inability to get to the more high-profile Sugar
Bowl, often settling for the Citrus Bowl.
Eli, meanwhile, is regarded as a "big-game player," an athlete who ups his
production when the stakes get higher.
Hindsight says the Giants' dream of playing in another Super Bowl in their own
backyard was nothing more than a fairytale, derailed by a perfect storm of
injury and ineptitude.
To be fair to Eli, his offensive line in 2013 was awful for most of the season
and his running game non-existent, but it's hard to imagine his big bro ever
falling to the kind of depths he did, even with a similar supporting cast.
That said, it's Eli with the two Super Bowl titles and Peyton trying to catch
him on Feb. 2 when the AFC champion Denver Broncos face off against the NFC
kingpin Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2 in MetLife Stadium, Eli's home field.
"It is pretty unique that each of us, that I got one in Indianapolis (while
Peyton was with the Colts) and he's trying to get one playing in a Super Bowl
in New York," the less experienced Manning said. "I guess it's pretty ironic."
Although Eli probably can't offer Peyton all that much when it comes to the
mechanics of the position, perhaps he can offer a different and valuable
perspective on the big stage.
"Obviously, I know what it's like with the Super Bowl and a lot of people are
trying to figure out if they're coming to the game, so I'm trying to take some
of that stress off of him and help manage some of those things," Eli said.
"That way, he can focus on work and getting the game plan. I've kind of been
in touch with him about that."
Eli also can offer an expert's view of MetLife Stadium and the Meadowlands,
which has always been a bit tricky because of its placement in the middle of a
swamp and strange cross winds. MetLife is not as a difficult as the old Giants
Stadium in that regard, but it remains a far more difficult place to judge than
most NFL stadiums, almost an East Coast version of Candlestick Park.
"I might have a few things for him, but I don't want to reveal that because I
don't want to give that to (Seattle quarterback) Russell Wilson," Manning
said. "Any tips wind-wise, I will tell him in private.
"(MetLife) probably is a little bit more neutral (than Giants Stadium was).
The old stadium definitely did have a specific end zone and corner you really
did not want to throw into if it was going to be a windy night. I know it's
going to be cold. I obviously don't know what the wind conditions are right
now, but if it is one of those windy days, there are a few little things that
you can give, but it's definitely not as bad as the old stadium."
Like many others, the younger Manning admits significant inclement weather
conditions could favor the Seahawks' top-ranked defense and strong running
game, but he doesn't believe it will decide the contest.
"Peyton has been in Denver this year and played outside in a lot of cold
games," he said. "I think obviously if it were to snow or be very windy, it
could be a disadvantage to the Broncos, just because how much they like to
throw the ball, compared to Seattle and their running game. For the most part,
it's really going to be the best team that is going to win, whoever plays the
best football that day. It's going to come down to that and execution. The
weather isn't going to decide the game."
When it comes to the Seahawks, though, Eli may want to keep his thoughts to
himself. The younger Manning threw for just 156 yards and was picked off five
times back on Dec. 15 when Seattle invaded MetLife Stadium and whitewashed the
"I'll obviously give any information that I have to him (about the Seahawks),
in our preparation, our game plan, just kind of different things I saw
watching film and different tips," Manning said. "I will try to give him
everything that I can give him to make his preparation better, any tips or
things that I saw. If he has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them and
help out in any way."
In the end, though, Eli will be spending Super Sunday the same way as 160
million or so others -- as a fan.
"Obviously, we'll be rooting hard and I'm excited for him, watching these last
two playoff games and playing well and hopefully he can continue to do that,"
Eli said. "You know what it means to win championships and how hard he's
worked. I'm obviously very proud of him and I'm hoping he can go out there and
play well and the whole team, the Broncos, can play well and get a win."
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