View Photo Gallery: Eli Manning and the New York Giants get a chance to try to beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. The Lombardi Trophy is much nicer than this one.

Whether it was for the passing of the torch to Eli Manning or just a show of brotherly love, Peyton Manning made a low-key appearance at the NFC Championship game Sunday.

And he couldn’t have been prouder of his younger brother, who is in position to win his second Super Bowl and go one-up on Peyton. The brothers found each other for a quick hug on a loading dock outside Candlestick Park after the New York Giants’ overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

“I’m proud of you,” Peyton told Eli (via the Newark Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi) as security guards, family members and several fans watched.

Peyton Manning, with Jerome Bettis and Papa John, says in a new pizza commercial, “A man’s gotta work, okay?” (AJ Mast / AP Images Papa John’s)

Peyton, who missed the 2011 season and whose own future — with the Indianapolis Colts and in football — is uncertain, talked about the sib who is eclipsing him.

“The Giants have had a great run here the last few weeks, and I couldn’t be more proud of Eli and how he’s played all year,” Peyton said. “He really worked hard this offseason. He really wanted to have a good year and he sure has. Indianapolis [site of Super Bowl XLVI] is lucky to have this kind of game.”.

The quarterbacks’ parents were present, as was oldest brother Cooper. “I’ve been proud of Eli all year,” Peyton said. “I’ve really gotten to see more of his games this year because of my injury, so it’s been fun to watch him play. He’s been clutch all season long. Fourth-quarter comebacks. When they’ve needed him, he’s always been there.”

The brothers, Peyton said, spoke twice a week during the season, including Friday night gabfests to discuss the defense of the upcoming opponent and Monday post mortems. But make no mistake, Peyton was clear that grasshopper didn’t need the imparted wisdom.

“It was different when he was younger, and there were some things I could maybe help him with,” Peyton said. “Eli has seen it all. He’s truly an experienced, veteran quarterback. I’m just proud as another quarterback to see the way he’s competed and played.

“I’m even more proud Eli’s my brother.”


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Eli Manning on Peyton

Archie Manning on Peyton