HONOLULU – Peyton Manning’s first Pro Bowl experience came when he was just 3 years old.
He watched his father, Archie, from the stands of Aloha Stadium in the NFL’s first all-star game in Hawaii. Little brother Eli wasn’t even born yet.
This time, Dad is the one proudly cheering on his sons in the final game in Honolulu – at least for now, as the NFL experiments with moving the game to the mainland.
“We’re very proud,” Archie Manning said.
The Manning brothers are on opposite sidelines and the first quarterback-playing brothers in Pro Bowl history.
Peyton, of the Indianapolis Colts, is making his ninth appearance in Hawaii in 11 seasons and will start for the AFC. Meanwhile, Eli is representing the New York Giants and making his Pro Bowl debut as a reserve for the NFC.
So who’s Dad pulling for?
“No. No. No. No. It doesn’t matter,” Archie Manning said. “I just don’t want anybody to get hurt in this game. I don’t care if they play for the Colts or Giants or Patriots or Titans, I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”
Besides the first QB siblings, today’s Pro Bowl also features another intriguing matchup for fans who didn’t get enough from the Super Bowl: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ shutdown defense versus the Arizona Cardinals’ high-powered offense.
“Maybe the fans want to see an exciting game like that, but I don’t know if my heart can take it anymore,” Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. “This is the closest they can get, but this don’t even come close to what they want to get back from us.”
The champion Steelers have three members on the AFC squad, and they’re all on defense: Farrior, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, who’s still trying to catch his breath from his Super Bowl-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.
They’ll go up against an NFC offense featuring three starters from the Cardinals: quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
“We can maybe beat them here,” said Warner, who’s considering retirement. “But I don’t know if it’s the same consolation as beating them in the Super Bowl.”
Farrior doesn’t know what to expect from the Cardinals in the Pro Bowl, which is usually played at half-speed and features more handshakes than hits.
“I don’t know how they’re going to act, if they’re going to play hard or they’re going to try to enjoy this like everybody else,” he said. “But those guys are a great team and they showed the heart of a champion. We just came up with the plays at the end.”
Boldin said he’s moved on from the Super Bowl.
“This is an all-star game,” he said. “We all just want to come out and have fun.”
The Cardinals aren’t on the underdog team. The NFC, which also features All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, is favored by 2 1/2 .
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