Eli Manning was asked 13 questions at his news conference soon after the Giants' arrived here today for Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI. Six of them concerned his older brother, Peyton.
This does not exactly qualify as an upset. Manning has been asked repeatedly about Peyton and the queries figure to increase in volume now that he's trying to win his second championship in the town where his brother has been the most popular sports figure – if not its favorite citizen – since arriving as the first overall draft choice in 1998. And since Peyton faces an uncertain future after missing the entire season following neck surgery, reporters have another line of Peyton-inspired questions to fire at Eli.
So let's take care of the week's most important issue.
"I don't have any plans, right now, to see Peyton," Eli said. "I know I won't be going over to his house anytime this week. The last Super Bowl I played in, he was in Arizona starting on Wednesday or Thursday and I never saw him then. I'll talk to him throughout the week, like I always do. Besides that, I am going to keep my normal routine and probably will not see a whole lot of family throughout the week."
Okay, so Eli and Peyton will not break bread this week. But it's not because he is tired of playing in his brother's "shadow," as one inquisitor put it.
"Peyton has been a great big brother to me and very helpful in my progression as a quarterback whether through college or the NFL," Eli said. "He has supported me and given me any tips he could think of, especially my first couple of years. For a Christmas present, he bought me a computer that stores all our software to watch film at home. He would want to do anything for me to be a better quarterback, to help me play at a high level. He has been very helpful at that. In his case, he's been the guy who I've looked up to. Not just because of what he's done in the NFL, but since I started watching him play football when he was in the seventh grade and the starting quarterback. I didn't miss one of his games from the time he was in seventh grade through high school. I saw every one of his games. I tried to see every college game, whether on TV or attending. He is someone who I've watched closely, talked to and worked with on drops and different (techniques). When he went off to college he would come back and things his coaches were teaching him in college, he would come back and teach to me when I was in eighth grade or in high school, just so I would have an advantage. We've had a very close relationship. I thank him for all that he's provided me and helping me become a better quarterback."
Okay, so Eli really does like Peyton, as he's said about a million times during their parallel NFL careers. But how does he feel about possibly winning a Super Bowl in his brother's hometown, on his brother's home field?
"I really have not thought much about playing in Indianapolis," Eli said. "It's not really a time to reflect right now on that. It's just a matter of trying to get ready for the Patriots and get ready to play this game, and get ready for their defense. We'll look back on the fact of playing in the Super Bowl in the town where he plays for the Colts. We'll look on that later."
Just for the record, the other Peyton-related topics Eli responded to were…
a) On whether the uncertainty with Peyton's football future causes him to have a deeper appreciation for the game. "If you play this game long enough, you realize how precious each season is and how precious these opportunities are," Eli said. "You don't know if you're going to get a chance to play in another Super Bowl. You don't know when a season might be cut short on you. It's not just reminding me because of what Peyton's going through."
b) On the comments Peyton made to him after the Colts won the Super Bowl following the 2006 season – and year before Eli and the Giants beat New England. Peyton said his younger brother would someday win a Super Bowl and MVP award of his own. "I think he was just trying to be nice at the time," Eli said. "Seeing Peyton after the game, in the locker room, seeing that smile on his face and then being with him those next couple of months after he won the Super Bowl; it definitely made me jealous. You always want to win a championship, but when you see someone win it, just the relief, the smile that was painted on his face for months – it makes you want to win one even more. It truly gives you a burning desire to get one. That made a bigger impact on me than his comments. There's not a better feeling from a professional standpoint knowing that you've done your job, that season, better than anyone else. That is what we're fighting for."
c) And most important, an example of when he was little and Peyton "big-brothered him." "I probably have quite a few of them, but to limit it to one – his most popular move, he would pin me down and take his knuckles and knock on my chest and make me name the 12 schools in the SEC (Southeastern Conference)," Eli said. "I didn't know them all at the time, but I quickly learned them. It was a great learning technique. I don't suggest anyone else try it out, but it definitely made me learn the schools of the SEC. Once I figured those out, he moved on. There were 28 teams in the NFL at that point, so all teams in the NFL. I had to get my studying on for that. Then once I figured that out – the one I never got was the 10 brands of cigarettes. When he really wanted to torture me and knew I had no shot of ever getting it, that's when I just started screaming for my mom or dad to come save me, or maybe Cooper. That was his go-to move."
Well, that about covers the Eli-Peyton partnership for today. But it's only just begun. Media Day is tomorrow.
*Tom Coughlin was asked at his news conference what he learned from Bill Parcells, for whom he worked as an assistant coach from 1988-90, the last of the those seasons ending with the Giants' victory in Super Bowl XXV.
"From Parcells, the thing that I admire mostly from Bill Parcells to George Young, Mr. Mara when I had the opportunity to tell him, was the belief in continuity, the stability," Coughlin said. "There were very few peaks and valleys. There was a feeling of pressure; the finger was always on the coaching staff and how they prepared their team and how the players responded to that. Ultimately, anyone who was around Parcells for any length of time learned how to win. That's the biggest thing I took away from it.
"When I left the New York Giants and became the head coach at Boston College, it was an ideal time for me because I had just come off a Super Bowl championship. My confidence was very high and I believed in how our system worked and the infinite details that went into coaching assignments and working with players, etc. That's the way my head coaching opportunities began. I think you always stimulate yourself and you're always trying to improve. No matter what year it is and what the circumstance is, what I've always done is taken an offseason and launched myself into something that I can improve upon that our staff and our players can benefit from. That's how it's evolved for me."
*The Patriots, the Giants' opponents on Sunday, arrived here yesterday. But Coughlin had the Giants fly to Indianapolis today.
"First of all, this is the path that we followed four years ago (when the Giants defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII)," Coughlin said. "I thought it was a very good one and it came from research that I had done prior to setting the exact schedule. I felt that our players, because of arriving here when we do and because of media day tomorrow, have plenty of time to be acclimated to the hotel, to the setting, to the meeting rooms. You see these guys walking around now trying to find their way around. That'll all be taken care of when we go to work on Wednesday. I just felt like this whole process was very good, and the way in which our schedule was established. I thought it was very good for us the last time we did it. We tinkered with it a little bit here and there, with the circumstances that we have been dealt with meeting rooms and that type of thing, but for the most part, the schedule remains the same."
Coughlin said the journey here was somewhat different than the other trips the Giants took this week.
"The flight started out like a day in which we were making a normal travel to a game, and you kind of have to catch yourself realizing you have a lot of work to do throughout the course of the week," he said. "I think the players were excited. When we got on the plane, it was the video cameras and all of that stuff. They're excited about it."
*The Giants' injured reserve players did not travel with the team, but will arrive later in the week. Mathias Kiwanuka knows exactly how they feel, because he missed Super Bowl XLII with a fractured fibula.
"It's tough," Kiwanuka said. "I have a lot of sympathy for them and I understand exactly what they're going through. It's not about just missing out on the Super Bowl. You feel bad when you miss out on any game, any practice. You don't realize how important it is until it's taken away. So I definitely understand what they're going through."
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