The odds of two brothers playing against each other in the NFL as starting quarterbacks for their respective teams is similar to the odds of being struck by lightning…twice.
For the third time in their careers, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning will face each other when the Denver Broncos travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Giants. For the record, Peyton owns a 2-0 advantage over Eli, but who’s counting?
“I did the New York conference call and there was not one question about the Giants’ defense,” Peyton said. “I had to force it in there myself.”
It’s true. The people want to hear about the family. They want to hear about what parents Archie and Olivia Manning think. They want to know if one quarterback gives his own defense any “insider” words of wisdom prior to facing the other quarterback.
Nerves in the Manning family must be running high, and they’re not Peyton or Eli’s. Everyone knows that one brother will lose while another basks in victory. Certainly dating back to their backyard days, a tie is impossible in any Manning contest.
“I think any time you get any of this sibling rivalries it’s kind of a big deal,” head coach John Fox said after Wednesday’s practice. “We just lived it through the Super Bowl with the Harbaughs. It doesn’t happen very often if it’s ever happened at all.”
Peyton knows the significance of the meeting, and there will be a brief moment in time on Sunday when he recognizes it, just as he did in ’06 and ’10.
“Playing against your brother in an NFL game, it’s a little bit different than playing against him in Little League baseball, or whatnot. It’s significant, I think for he and I…I think I will take a moment there, whenever it is—in pregame warm-ups, the national anthem, coin toss, whenever that is—I think you do take a moment there. And you kind of capture it and hold onto it. I have a moment from the 2006 game and the 2010 game, but that’s one moment. The rest of the time you’re going out and trying to do your job as a quarterback and help your team win.”
Both Peyton and Eli got together for an off season meeting of the minds in April. The two brothers went to Duke University to work with Blue Devil coach David Cutcliffe (Peyton’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee and Eli’s coach at Ole Miss). They brought their three top receivers with them. Peyton brought Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Eric Decker. Eli got Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Louis Murphy on the plane.
It clearly paid off. Thomas and Welker combined for 14 receptions for 228 yards and four touchdowns in week one. Nicks and Cruz combined for 10 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns to kick off the 2013 season.
Both brothers have been to the Super Bowl twice. The only difference is Eli has one more ring than Peyton. With all the record-setting numbers the Manning’s have put up, the only numbers that matter from this point on are the ones displayed when the clock reads 0:00 on Sunday.