After a Super Bowl week in which talk of his future dominated the conversation, Peyton Manning was invisible Sunday night.
Eli Manning celebrated his second Super Bowl victory with his baby daughter and his wife. And his mother and dad. And his other older brother.
But Peyton Manning, who, you might have heard, has some uncertainty concerning his future in football and Indianapolis, wasn’t in the family suite at Lucas Oil Stadium as his little brother was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVI. The family is “Superstitious” that way. Olivia and Archie Manning watched their son from one suite, Peyton watched from another — that’s how, after all, they did it when Eli won the Super Bowl four years ago in Arizona.
“The last time we won, Peyton sat by himself,” Cooper Manning, the oldest of the three Manning boys, said (via ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor). “We get superstitious come playoff time.”
Olivia Manning watched serenely. “I believe in him,” she said. “Eli’s done it before.”
Archie Manning no doubt felt the same way, but his actions betrayed him. He stood for most of the second half and paced — you’d think he’d be used to this, now that his sons have gone 3-1 over the last six Super Bowls.
“Olivia and I were looking at each other this week,” he said, “and asking ourselves, ‘What’s going on here?’ ”
At the morning-after press conference featuring the Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning relayed that Peyton was proud of him and disclosed what they discussed.
“I got to be with Peyton a little bit. He was just proud of me and proud of the team. A quarterback like Peyton is, he knows the game well and he asks questions a lot of people won’t ask,” Eli said. “Like, you know, the touchdown to Victor Cruz, he asked if I saw that middle linebacker running out there and I didn’t. ...
“And he talked about the throw to [Mario] Manningham. He was made, said everybody kept talking about what a great catch it was. He said, ‘It was a pretty good throw also.’ That’s a brother looking out for me. He was proud of me and happy for me.”
Eli Manning stressed that he and his brother aren’t concerned with any sibling rivalry.
“This isn’t about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger. This is about a team and organization being named world champions. That was the ultimate goal. The only thing that’s important is the team finding a way to get a victory. That’s the only thing I care about and Peyton and I both know that’s what the goal is every year. It’s not about anything else.”
At some point soon, Peyton Manning will resume his spot at the forefront of the offseason conversation. But Sunday night belonged to Eli Manning, who nosed ahead of his big brother with a 2-0 record in Super Bowls. Peyton is 1-1.
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