Peyton and Eli take rivalry to Manning Bowl II

By Steve Keating

CHICAGO (Reuters) - From tennis courts to baseball diamonds, the sporting world has seen much sibling rivalry, but the National Football League's quarterbacking brothers Eli and Peyton Manning may be the first to come with Roman numerals.

Manning Bowl II grabs the NFL spotlight on Sunday when Eli leads the New York Giants into Indianapolis to take on older brother Peyton and the Colts in a prime-time family feud.

There have been over 333 documented sets of brothers who have played professional football, but perhaps no one can relate to that dilemma more than two sisters.

Tennis siblings Venus and Serena Williams, minority owners in the Miami Dolphins, know plenty about what it feels like to stare across at a family member and plan their demise having played each other 23 times, including four Wimbledon finals.

But while the Williams sisters have routinely fretted about being put on the court against each other, Eli and Peyton are looking forward to Sunday's game with good humor and smiles.

Instead of trying to avoid the hype, which has been coming at them like blitzing linebackers, the brothers have made no attempt to downplay the matchup like they did in Manning Bowl I when they became the first brothers to start at quarterback on opposing teams.

The Manning clan, including father Archie, a former-Pro Bowl quarterback with the New Orleans Saints, poke fun at each other in a humorous commercial to promote a game expected to produce monstrous television ratings.

"I think you have to try and enjoy it and understand it is special to look over there and see your big brother on the sidelines," Eli told reporters. "You have to enjoy these times and take advantage of it and remember it.

"We really just don't know how many times it's going to happen. It's rare and I'm trying to appreciate it."

When the brothers met in the first Manning Bowl in 2006, Peyton, who is five years older, was already well on his way to a Hall of Fame career while Eli was just beginning his third season and still undergoing intense on the job training.

Peyton and the Colts won that game 26-21 but four years later much has changed.


"It's a little different than last time," said Eli. "It was my first full season being a starter and the first game of that season. There were a lot of things going on.

"With this one, I've been playing a little bit longer.

"Still, it's going to be fun. It's going to be a great environment, it's my first time to play in the Indianapolis stadium."

While Eli has established himself as an elite quarterback, Peyton is building a case to be considered among the best of all-time. He has captured four league MVP awards and ranks near the top of every major category in the record books.

But for all their similarities, the brothers do possess strikingly different personalities.

Peyton is as he appears on the field, hyperactive and intense. He is unafraid to speak his mind and enjoys the spotlight. Eli is more reserved and relaxed but no less passionate about the sport.

Despite living in the midwest away from the media spotlight that his brother faces in New York, Peyton has become one of America's best known athletes appearing in commercials and even hosting Saturday Night Live.

Whether it is a sales pitch, a punch line or a pass, Peyton delivers them all with the same perfect timing and accuracy.

The only thing more remarkable than his statistics is his numbers on the Davie Brown Index, a scale used to rank celebrity endorsement potential.

He ranks in the top 25 in endorsement, scoring in the same neighborhood as Denzel Washington and Michael Jordan.

"His numbers are just incredibly good," Chris Anderson, spokesperson for the Marketing Arm, a marketing agency that created the celebrity DBI. "People just like him and he plays well on the field."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)