Eli would welcome all-Manning Super Bowl

Posted Feb 1, 2013

Eli Manning said today he would welcome a chance to face his brother Peyton in the Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS – The big story at Super Bowl XVLII has been the Harbaugh brothers, coaches John of Baltimore and Jim of San Francisco, and how after the game Sunday one will reach the pinnacle of his career and the other will be in the throes of depression. Their parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, have been fiercely neutral.

That presumably, would be the path Archie and Olivia Manning would follow should their sons, Eli of the Giants and Peyton of the Denver Broncos, ever meet in a Super Bowl.

Although the scrutiny would be enormous, Eli said today he would welcome an all-Manning Super Bowl.

“I never dread playing a game against Peyton,” said Eli, who has faced his brother twice in regular-season games and will do so again in 2013 in MetLife Stadium. “I think, obviously, each year I want to be in the Super Bowl and he wants to be in the Super Bowl. The fact that we’re in the AFC and NFC gives us that possibility.

“I think with my parents it would probably be the hardest. I think they would be the proudest parents for those two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but that Sunday during the game, watching the game, would be tough on them. And afterwards it would be tough to be so happy for one of their kids for winning a championship and feeling bad about the other one who just lost. I wouldn’t want them to feel that bad about Peyton in that situation.”

Well, we know Eli still has his dry sense of humor. He was in the Super Bowl Media Center today at a Gatorade promotional event and discussed several topics with a group of reporters.

Manning said he is looking forward to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area hosting the Super Bowl next year. And he strongly disagrees with Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who used a poor choice of words this week in denouncing the NFL’s decision to play a Super Bowl outdoors at a cold weather site.

“I disagree with a lot of things about that comment: wording and overall content of it,” Manning said. “I think it will be really good.

“That’s the good thing about Super Bowls - you want something unique, you want something different, and you don’t want to have it in the same place every year, you don’t want to have it in the same environment every year. Obviously, as special as New Orleans (his hometown) is and unique as it is, New York has that same, if not a better atmosphere. (It’s) a sports town, great restaurants, great entertainment. Obviously, the weather will be kind of the big issue but football, I always say, hey, you can play the NFC or AFC Championship Game in cold weather and have snow coming down and that’s just part of it. Why not have a Super Bowl? Originally, championships were decided in cold-weather games, and outside, and in New York, and so this is a chance to bring it back out. And obviously I think everyone will hope for decent weather, I don’t think anyone is hoping for a blizzard to come in, but I think it will be unique and different and something new and good for the game.”

Manning is hopeful the Giants will be the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. A year ago, they won their second title in five seasons. For much of the 2012 season, it appeared the Giants would have an opportunity to defend their championship in the playoffs. But they suffered one-sided defeats in Atlanta and Baltimore late in the season and, despite a 42-7 rout of Philadelphia in the season finale, went home with a 9-7 record.

It’s safe to say Manning hasn’t enjoyed watching other teams compete in the postseason.

“I think anytime you are watching games, you’re kind of reminded and disappointed that you’re not in the playoffs,” he said. “That hurts, the way the season ended. Obviously, the Philadelphia game ended well but the two weeks prior to that, not playing very good football with so much at stake, is upsetting. But I think each year you’re going to be in different situations and sometimes you rise to the occasion and everything goes your way and you kind of catch the breaks and then some years for whatever reason, things don’t go as well in those situations. The difficult part is trying to put your finger on why? What did we do last year that made it work, versus this year? Was there something? And I can’t really find anything. There’s not something specific, oh, if we just fixed that, we’d be right where we want to be. It’s just a crazy game sometimes and it’s weird how games can get turned against you really quickly.”

Manning’s take on several other topics:

*On whether Peyton likes to remind him he’s 2-0 against Eli.

“No. Peyton and I, we support each other. We know how important (it is), football is our life, it’s our occupation, we try very hard and each game is important. Afterwards (it’s), ‘Hey, good game, love you, you played your heart out.’ We usually try to meet again. On the field is just a quick handshake and we say, ‘I’ll meet you in the locker room or outside the locker room’ for a private discussion. You have a talk, talk about a few plays and go from there.

“Peyton and I support each other throughout the season. It’s great having a brother who you can talk to about football-related things, things that are happening, certain plays we see. We try to watch each other’s games when we can and see what’s going on, help each other if you’re playing a similar opponent and if there are little things you’ve seen during film study, tips, you try to help each other out. We really are trying to help each other and it is supporting. It’s not a rivalry where you’re going to be giving each other a hard time about it.”

*On whether he had a “tired arm” during the season.

“No, I don’t think there was anything wrong or tired. I think, obviously, the team went through a little bit when you had (Hurricane) Sandy come in and guys were living out of hotels or away or kind of dealing with other things. It makes it tough. I think we were a little tired as a group those two weeks. I think the bye week kind of helped. I think we came back after that playing with a little bit more energy about us, practices were a little bit sharper, those types of things. But besides that, everything felt fine, from my standpoint, health-wise.”

*On Hakeem Nicks’ year-long knee problems.

“I think having Hakeem kind of banged up all year was tough. He wasn’t that same kind of dominant receiver, and that deep threat, get-down-the-field guy. It was tough on him. I loved his toughness. He wanted to be out there playing. He wanted to try to practice. But he couldn’t quite do it. It had an effect on our offense.”

Manning was asked about a deep pass in Atlanta that Nicks couldn’t catch up to. Had Nicks been healthy, it likely would have been a touchdown.

“I think it was just kind of hard to judge, get kind of a good feel for where he was, what his top speed was,” Manning said. “He couldn’t really practice. In practice he was going three-quarters speed. Some games he seemed to have that extra burst. Some games it didn’t happen. I think it was just based on how he was feeling. So I think it was hard to get a sense of where to put the ball where you’re not even thinking, you’re just throwing it and it’s coming out the in the right spot because you’ve been throwing it in practice all week, you’re throwing it that way all season. With Hakeem it was just hard to kind of throw it and know exactly where he was going to be. When the ball came out, I was thinking … sometimes you can tell ‘Hey, I might’ve put too much on that one’ or ‘I might’ve underthrown it.’ You can tell right away. That one felt good right away, but obviously it was a few inches away from being a touchdown.”

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