Peyton Manning vs. Eli Manning, and the best brothers in sports history


Quarterbacks Peyton, left, and Eli Manning have combined to play in 31 playoff games, win three Super Bowls and throw for nearly 100,000 yards in their NFL careers. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)
Mike Wise
Columnist September 14, 2013

It’s only Week 2, but between the studio-panel debates and ungodly amount of stories doesn’t it feel like the buildup to Manning Bowl III on Sunday afternoon just raced past unavoidable to unnecessary and — yes, Oprah — unfeeling?

Please, people: Eli and Peyton are supportive, close siblings before they are NFL-legacy combatants, their careers dissected like earthworms in HD. This isn’t Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez; there is no tale of the tape between Archie Manning’s two most famous sons.

Mike Wise is a sports columnist for The Washington Post. View Archive

(Peyton is simply a better Fantasy League quarterback, commercial pitchman and needy diva than his younger and more introverted brother. Eli can be an enigmatic wreck, but he is a more resourceful, money quarterback in the last two minutes of almost every game played in January or February. Between September and December, I’m taking Peyton and all his audibles/Pilate workouts behind center. If it’s really cold and the Lombardi Trophy is within sniffing distance, I want Eli’s clumsiness and his Daddy’s Louisiana twang in that huddle over his brother, who by then is usually hosting “Saturday Night Live.”)

It’s time for more civility, because the common casualty of any juvenile Superman vs. Hulk debate in sports now — Tiger vs. Jack, Brady vs. Manning (okay, Peyton), Bird-Magic, Messi-Maradona, Chloe-Lamar — is that one Hall of Famer is usually reduced to a bum.

It’s especially callous in sibling comparisons.

So in honor of Peyton and Eli trading spirals, in a search for higher Cain-and-Abel journalism ground, let’s not dump on any one sublime performer just to elevate the next.

Let’s instead emasculate entire sporting households.

Herewith, then, in ascending order, the Top Three Greatest Brothers in All-Time Sports World History. Like, ever:

●3. Vince, Dom and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. 22 all-star appearances, almost 5,000 hits and they all served their country in World War II.

●2. Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich and Ron Sutter. Six Stanley Cups, 86 seasons in the NHL.

●1. Eli and Peyton. Thirty-one playoff games, three Super Bowls, three Super Bowl MVP awards and closing in on 100,000 passing yards combined.

Don’t even start with, “The Sutters had twice as many championships. You’re an idiot.” Yes, I am. But they needed three times as many bodies. Their parents don’t get credit for procreating more. If Archie had six sons, they easily have the past 10 Lombardi Trophies.

Maurice and Henri Richard (“The Rocket” and “The Pocket Rocket”) were right there, but 19 Stanley Cups seemed like overkill.

Apologies also to the Harbaughs, but coaching isn’t playing. I also dissed the Hulls, Espositos, Ripkens, Barbers, Alomars, Niekros, Perrys and Alous, who had a nice run but never won a World Series among them.

The Spinks and Klitschkos didn’t make the cut, either, because they weren’t the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of their respective generations and Vitaly and Vladimir remind me too much of Ivan Drago, who we all know killed Apollo Creed. The Pettys, Waltrips, Busches, Unsers and Allisons were DQ’d because their daddies were oil-stained racin’ fools; their kids didn’t have a career choice.

I wanted to include the Charlton brothers, who won the World Cup for England in 1966, but I ran out of room and couldn’t stomach putting a guy known as “Sir Bobby” on the list.

Seriously, when the infinitesimal odds of just one child making a living in professional sports out of a household are figured in — let alone excelling and winning titles — it’s surreal to think of all the families that produced multiple stars. That two brothers won the most revered championship in all of American sports, playing the glamour position on different teams, is flat-out amazing.

The only thing greater than Eli and Peyton among siblings would be if two girls straight out of Compton grew up to win a combined 24 Grand Slam singles titles and produce the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.

I mean, let’s be honest: next to Serena and Venus, the Manning brothers are bums.

For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.

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