It is no secret that the Manning family is a close-knit one. Father Archie and mother Olivia have omnipresent for all of their sons’ big moments, win or lose. Peyton and Eli have supported each other like brothers will do very openly over their lifetimes.
On Tuesday, Peyton made a visit to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ, the headquarters of the New York Giants, Eli’s team for the past 13 seasons.
“It was good to have him here,” said Eli. “I hadn’t seen him in a while. He has something to do tomorrow so he popped in and sat in on a few meetings with us today. Just good to catch up. I’ll get some time with him later on.”
Peyton, who retired after a Super Bowl-winning performance with the Denver Broncos in February, is in New York for an event and decided to impart some wisdom on his little brother. The Giants travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers this Sunday. Peyton, who played his entire career in the AFC, knows a thing or two about facing the Steelers. He was 3-1 against Pittsburgh over the course of his career.
Eli said Peyton was doing well and handling his retirement nicely, but still sees some fire in his brother’s eyes when he gets around a football setting.
“He seems to be staying busy and enjoying the down time,” Eli said. “I think when he gets in this environment, he was kind of drilling the coaches his own questions. I know he liked being in there and doing a little install on Pittsburgh. I’m sure he misses that environment. Just the game plan, how you’re going to do things, how you’re going to deal with protections, how you’re going to pick things up. Just really getting back into that flow of things, I’m sure, is a little reminder of how special it is to be in this situation.”
Does that mean that Peyton could possibly return to the game as a coach?
“You’d have to ask him. I’m not sure,” said Eli.
The Giants’ offense has not performed as well as expected through the first 11 games. Eli believes they are close to breaking out.
“We’ve clicked at times. We’re just a few plays away,” he said. “You score 21, it’s not like we scored 10. We’re just not getting down in the red zone enough. That’s the deal. Last week, had a couple of opportunities to throw some balls down the field and really only hit one of them. One of six. If you hit another two of those, you’re down there in the red zone and scoring more points. It’s just a matter of it could be a play or two that’s a difference in whether you’re scoring enough points and getting down there in the red zone enough.”
Eli will once again face Ben Roethlisberger this week. They are two of the “Big Three” quarterbacks who were selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft along with the Chargers’ Philip Rivers.
“You always keep up with your draft class with Ben and Philip Rivers,” said Eli. “Don’t get to play against them a whole lot with them being in the AFC. Every four years you get to play one of them. I enjoy these matchups, get to see him a little bit. He’s had an unbelievable career. I think you always have a special connection and bond with your draft class guys. I think you’re always rooting for your guys to do well. You always want your quarterback draft class to be well thought of and respected down the road. You hear about the ’83 draft class and other certain years. You want to be thrown in that mix someday. Besides that, haven’t seen him a whole lot outside of football. Our paths haven’t crossed that much. I have a lot of respect for him and his game.”