The Manning name has become synonymous with football, and even people who don’t watch (yes, they do exist) can recognize a Manning from 25 yards away.
I thought it was time to get to know the brothers up close and personal.
I set out to interview Peyton and Eli together in a warm, intimate, 20/20-type setting. I had visions of laughter, hugs, and maybe even tears. What I was not counting on was the fact that they are normal brothers who act like, well, brothers.
As a result, the following interview is the best I could do under the circumstances. I was lucky to get out with my notebook. Growing up with three brothers—and my former military training—helped me to escape physically unscathed. But mentally…
I enter Archie and Olivia Manning’s family room to see Peyton and Eli sitting side by side playing video games. They are arguing about who sucks worse, and their mother turns off the game. They stand up when they see me, and we all shake hands. I am offered an Oreo, which I decline, and after some small talk, we get started.
ST: Peyton, how did it feel watching your little brother win the Super Bowl and MVP a year after you did?
PM: His defense should have gotten the M…I mean, it was really awesome. I am so proud of this little guy (puts Eli’s head under his arm and gives him a noogie).
ST: Eli, it must be great having your big brother to turn to for advice. Has his support been instrumental to your success?
EM: Support? What are you talking about? The day before the Super Bowl, that butt munch called to tell me that he couldn’t wait to see me choke in front of the world. He also put sand in my jock strap before the game. Plus, he was hammered by halftime up there in that press box. Nice, right? Support? (Eli grabs Peyton’s chest and twists) HA!!! Purple nerple!!!!
ST: Um, okay boys, um, Peyton—would you like to face your brother in the Super Bowl someday?
EM (Making choking sound): Could have been this year if SOMEBODY hadn’t choked (laughs devilishly).
PM: Choked? I’ll show you choked (smacks Eli in the gut). Yeah, I’d love to kick his ass in the Super Bowl next year. And win the MVP—league and Super Bowl—the world needs to know who the best Manning is (ducks as Eli takes a swing at his head).
ST: Your parents, especially your father, must be very proud of you both.
PM: I’ve always been my dad’s favorite, and since I am the better player, he is REALLY proud of me (Eli twists his ear).
EM: You’re an idiot. He likes me better, and you know it. I’m a better player, and you’re just jealous.
Peyton gives him an Indian burn, he pokes Peyton in the eye. They lock up and tumble to the floor, arms flailing, biting each other, punching, twisting, poking, and grunting. The plate of Oreos goes flying through the air as they roll into the coffee table. I grab my notebook and flee, spying Olivia Manning from the corner of my eye. As I bolt out the door, I can hear her yelling at the two boys. I chuckle to myself as I think perhaps she is the one who deserves the MVP...