They start them early in the Manning household. And by early, we mean 4 or 5 in the morning.
Peyton Manning will once again suit up for the Super Bowl, so it makes sense his name and that of his siblings would pop up amid the media frenzy. Still, it's a rare and unlikely treat to hear rapper Lil Wayne relay a story of how extreme the Mannings were in their football training when they were younger.
In his Monday Morning Quarterback column to kick off Super Bowl week, Peter King relays some interesting tidbits from a discussion with rapper Lil Wayne.
The most compelling is this little gem about a younger Manning contingent:
I have a story about Peyton. A guy who has been on the road with us, he was like an uncle to us, he told us this story. When he was in jail, about to come home, he was put on one of those work-release things in New Orleans. Every morning, real early, he would clean the schoolyard of the [Isidore] Newman School [where the Manning kids attended]. Because he was a prisoner, he would have to clean the schoolyard at 4 or 5 in the morning. There was not one morning, 4:30, 5 in the morning, he wouldn’t see Archie, Peyton, Cooper or Eli out on the field. He’d see Archie throwing passes to Cooper or Peyton throwing routes to Cooper. I don’t know if people know this, but it was Cooper who was the prodigy. He [the roadie] would tell us the story, you know, like it was destined.
You always assumed the Manning kids trained hard, but you didn't quite expect that this wonderful story would complement a week chockablock filled with stories, interviews and anecdotes and come from a 31-year-old rapper who just happens to be a huge NFL fan.
If this uncle-like figure were telling the truth—and it makes sense why you would recall with ease the sight of Archie Manning playing with his kids before dawn—it means days in the Manning house started well before "4:30, 5 in the morning."
While you were complaining about going to be bed early as a kid or whining about waking up to make it to school on time, the Mannings were going to extreme measures to hone their craft.
To get personal for a spell, my mornings as a kid included binge-watching cartoons before I was taken off to school—usually a healthy dosage of Inspector Gadget, Dennis the Menace or even Fraggle Rock.
I probably could have spent my time a bit more wisely.
For their effort and early-morning pain, the Mannings have been well rewarded. Peyton is preparing to battle for his second Super Bowl title, and he is coming off, at age 37, arguably his best season of his career.
The younger Eli already has a stunning football resume, including two Super Bowl titles and three Pro Bowl nods.
Unfortunately, the elder prodigy, Cooper, never had the opportunity to make good on his amazing talent, as he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis before leaving to college, something well covered in the ESPN 30 for 30 film, The Book of Manning.
As for Lil Wayne, he chimes in on Richard Sherman and the Seahawks star's propensity to talk trash, his beloved Packers and who he thinks will win the Super Bowl. Spoiler alert: He is Team Manning heading into the big game.
In fact, he offered about the Broncos quarterback, "He is special. He is one of a kind. I am glad I am able to live to see him, to see the kind of things he is doing."
It's easy to agree with the rapper, because Manning is still doing some unbelievable things on the field despite age and prior injury.
But he doesn't merely lace up the cleats, throw on the helmet and rely on talent to get him through the game. No, he has been working on this football guff since he was a kid, when his NFL quarterback dad wrestled him from bed well before the sun ever bothered showing up.
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