EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Don’t for a moment think this is going to be the only Super Bowl for Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Big brother Peyton, the current Super Bowl MVP, believes the Giants’ run this year is no fluke and Eli is going to lead New York to a number of NFL championship games, possibly even one next year that will have both of Archie Manning’s sons playing for the Lombardi Trophy.
“They’re a young team and they’re going to be in the mix every single year,” Peyton Manning said during a conference call Friday. “It certainly could happen and I couldn’t tell you how I’d feel about it until it happens. Maybe next year we’ll have to answer that question.”
Peyton Manning, who led Indianapolis to a Super Bowl title last year, spoke of the pride he feels for his brother, the difficulty in watching Eli play and the influence of their father. The Colts quarterback plans to attend the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl on Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz.
Peyton also recalled a major achievement by the brothers: teaching their father how to text message.
“It was a great accomplishment in itself because he is famous for using the full allotment of voice mail,” he said. “He usually needs two voice mails to get his message across and we taught him to text in a shorthand version.”
Mostly, Peyton focused on his brother’s play the past month – a four-touchdown performance in a loss to the Patriots in the final game of the regular season and nearly flawless efforts in playoff road wins at Tampa, Dallas and frigid Green Bay. In those four games, Eli threw eight touchdown passes and one interception.
“As his brother, obviously I am proud,” Peyton said. “But as a quarterback, I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate the way he played in those conditions in Green Bay and just coming back from deficits – the same way in Dallas and in Tampa.”
Eli has had his ups and downs in his four years in the league. His brother thinks the experience as a starter the past three years and his ability to stay calm under pressure has bolstered his game. As for sheer talent, Peyton said Eli has it all. He can throw deep and move in the pocket better than most think.
Next up are the Patriots (18-0) and their drive to perfection. The only advice Peyton gave his brother was to stick to his daily routine.
“This is obviously the biggest game that he has ever played in,” Peyton said. “It was certainly the biggest game I had ever played in last year. But I feel he is ready for the opportunity, although I have to say that I feel strongly that this will not be the last Super Bowl that he will play in.”
When pressed, Peyton didn’t back down.
“I just think he has what it takes to lead his team to championships,” Peyton said. “I have always thought he has that, even before what has happened these last three weeks.”
Peyton said they talk every week. When he calls on Tuesdays, when both are off, Eli is usually lifting weights or studying videotapes. When they talk Wednesdays or Thursday about 9 p.m., Eli is always studying film.
It’s part of the advice Archie gave them growing up: Work hard and enjoy.
“I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate that kind of work ethic because I’m very much the same mode,” Peyton said. “I think what you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. I can just tell, just being in Indianapolis and from very afar, just how hard he has worked and how much he puts into it and how seriously he takes his profession.
“I can tell how disappointed he is after a game that they haven’t won. He feels accountable. And, like I said, that is what you want as a player and as a teammate, for your quarterback to be passionate about it, to be into it, to feel accountable when they don’t win and to be excited when they do win.”
Peyton has scrounged a couple of extra Super Bowl tickets for Eli from his Indianapolis teammates. Watching in person won’t be easy for Peyton. When he sees Eli on TV during the season, Peyton sometimes has to turn the channel because he’s too emotionally involved.
There will be no leaving the stadium on Feb. 3.
“Eli called me and told me that he wanted me to be there,” Peyton said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”