EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — They are two of the NFL’s most well-known quarterbacks.
They telephone each other at least once a week to talk shop, work together on an offseason passing camp, and have appeared in a number of television commercials. Each had a chance to host ”Saturday Night Live.”
Each is a Super Bowl MVP.
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There is something else about Peyton and Eli Manning. First and foremost, they’re brothers.
They know each other inside out. They root for each other. They bleed for each other. They’re family.
So when little brother Eli says Peyton doesn’t need to beat the Seattle Seahawks and win a second Super Bowl to secure his legacy as one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks, believe him.
”I think Peyton’s already created his own legacy,” Eli said Thursday during a conference call 10 days before Peyton and Broncos meet the Seahawks in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. ”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, playing in his third Super Bowl. I don’t think that’s something that he’s worried about.
”There will always be arguments about who is the greatest? Or who is the best,” Eli said. ”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.”
Peyton’s resume is impressive: four-time MVP, 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All Pro.
Sure, there is only one title. Two would be the icing, and put him on par with Eli.
For the past few days, Eli Manning said his big job has been to get his brother extra tickets for the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city. Barring late add-ons, he’s already hit the request number.
”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 games, 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.”
While the two have exchanged some text messages, the brothers have not seen each other since Denver’s win over New England in the AFC title game on Sunday. They hope to get together early next week in the New York for a few hours, when Eli will give Peyton the secrets about playing in MetLife Stadium and his insight into playing Seattle, which the Giants did on here on Dec. 15.
The way the Seahawks’ defense dominated New York that day in a 23-0 win, Peyton might well ignore the advice.
After that, Peyton will take center stage during the weeklong media frenzy and Eli will get ready to watch only his second game at the Meadowlands. The first was in 2003 when the Jets crushed Peyton and the Colts in an AFC playoff game at Giants Stadium. Eli was still at Ole Miss.
There is some coincidence about this game. When Eli won his second Super Bowl in 2012, it was in Peyton’s stadium in Indianapolis.
”I’m rooting for him,” Eli said. ”It’s not like watching any other football game. If I’m watching two other teams, I’m kind of casually watching and don’t really care who wins or loses. Here, it’s a little bit more nerve-racking. I don’t get nervous playing football games, I get nervous watching my brother play, and I guess because I’ve been doing this for a long time and you kind of know key moments and key plays.”
Eli does not think the cold will be a factor in the game. The bigger issue for his brother would be snow and wind. That might affect the Broncos more because they are a passing offense. The Seahawks are more run-oriented.
Coming into the season, Eli hoped the Giants might become the first time to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium. A 0-6 start derailed that and led to a 7-9 season that left New York out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
If he’s not going, Manning is happy his brother made it. There is a little jealousy, too.
”It kind of makes you want to get back to that situation and kind of get back to working and getting your mind set on doing whatever I have to do to get the Giants back to the championship games and get back to Super Bowls,” Eli said.
Sunday, he’ll watch, and root for Peyton, just like his big brother did for him in 2008 and ’12, when the Giants won it all.