Sunday's game between the Giants and the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium will feature the two brothers going head-to-head against one another for just the second time in their careers. Peyton's Colts got the better of Eli's Giants, 26-21, in the season opener in 2006.
The Colts, of course, would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Eli and the Giants would follow up with a win in the big game a year later.
This time around, the Colts are looking to avoid going 0-2 for the first time since, 1998, Peyton's rookie year. Indianapolis lost, 34-24, at Houston in the season opener Sunday. The Giants opened with a 31-18 win over Carolina.
The two teamed up for a humorous ad to promote the game, and with added attention on the two signal-callers this week, both were understandably asked about the other during their weekly press sessions. Some highlights:
On the game not being enjoyable for the family:
I think it's just the fact that it would be hard for my parents to be excited for one son for winning the game knowing the other son is disappointed, having lost. I think that's basically what it comes down to. They basically root for the offense to score points, back and forth and scoring points, but if one team goes up by 14 or 21, they're happy in a sense, and disappointed, because the other son's losing. I think that's the hard part. Hopefully on a Sunday they're happy for both their sons, or happy for one and disappointed for the other but when you're competing directly it makes it a little harder.
Is it enjoyable for you?
It's been much better this time around just because it's the second week of the season whereas four years ago it was the opening game of the year and once the schedule came out in April you had almost five months of talking about it, getting questions about it and answering the same questions over and over. It's one thing to get it for a couple of days and another to get it for five months.
I think it was hard for Peyton and I because people want to make it a Manning Bowl and not Giants vs. Colts. And that's the way we look at it, Giants vs. Colts. WE've got a job to do, to run our offense and lay well against the opposing offense.
On if he thinks it irritates his teammates:
No, I mean, for this week, I think it's been pretty good. Your teammates laugh about it or give you shots about it, but in a good way, the way a teammate can only do and get away with. It's been relatively calm this week, and they're not getting questions about it for five months and only have to deal with it for one week. So I think it's been easier for everybody.
On a moment during the National Anthem before the 2006 game:
Yeah, that's one thing I look forward to. I know it's what I look forward to. What's special to me, is a couple of hours before the game I go out and do my warmup, just me and my receivers. I know he does something similar too. I go out and see him standing there and there's not a whole lot to chat about, you shake hands, reflect for a moment or two and then go onto your workout and forget about it. Thats kinda neat, but I think the last time you look over and appreciate the moment is the National Anthem. I guess I will see him at midfield for the coin flip too ... after that, it's game time and I got to get my mind focused on what we have to do to win.
On Peyton's basketball battles with Cooper when they were younger:
"I were more competitive than Peyton and I were they were only two years apart. They played on the same basketball team, played on the same football team. They had to guard each other in practice and the elbow would be flying. They could play one on one growing up ... They could get in some battles. They got in some fights in different things. I remember that. But it's kind of brotherly love. You might be arguing or fighting one minute, but 20 minutes later you might be laughing hysterically at each other. I think all of us have a close relationship, we all get along very well and look forward to times in the offseason to get together.
On if Peyton looked out for him:
"He did. Peyton was a great big brother and I think he has always taken pride in being an older brother. Even when I was getting my start in high school football he would come back in the spring or summer and would have dad come film my practice. So he could film my footwork and drops. So he'd go over it and say 'this is what I'm getting taught at Tennessee' and brought those things to me. So he would always look out for me as I became a young quarterback in the NFL. Not just football, but life and ideas and suggestions and just looking out for his younger brother as he goes through certain and similar situations that he went through.
On who gets the better of it on the golf course:
"He's a better golfer than me. But a lot of times we're on the same team, a lot of times in foursome you're competing with other people. We don't get out there that often so when we are it's more about enjoying each other's company and having fun than placing bets and grinding it out."
What do you think about the quarterback you’re facing this weekend?
"What do I think about him? I don’t have a great answer for you on that, I guess. I’m a big fan of him."
How come he gets to shove you in the closet (in the "Sunday Night Football" commercial) and the big brother doesn’t do it to the little brother?
"I don’t know. That’s the way it worked out, I guess."
Eli has talked about this time around that he is going to try and enjoy this game, do you feel the same way or did you enjoy the last one?
"I know both of us were relieved. We knew that when we played each other this season that it wasn’t the opener. Four years ago, we had all the questions all preseason. The fact that it’s week two, we just get to focus on our first game as I know Eli was, and now I understand it’s week two and the questions. The fact is that it’s one week, and after this week it’ll be over, so I think both of us are pretty relieved as far as when the game was going to be."
You guys don’t actually face each other on the field, but is there anything you guys do compete directly against each other when you’re home or during the offseason?
"Not really. The time that Eli and I are together is so rare, being on the same schedule. This is probably the only time I will see him this fall, obviously until after the season is over, it will be the short visit I get with him before the game. Any chance that he and I have to be together, like with all my family, the times that we’re together is pretty rare and we get time to enjoy each other’s company and be around them. If we play golf, it’s more friendly, having fun, and being together. It’s not really a competitive situation, it’s a support relationship. We try to help each other and try to be around each other."
Was that different growing up at all?
"Yeah. For me, I was two years younger than my other brother, Cooper. He and I were very competitive against each other. Eli being five years younger, we never played in the same leagues together. There was a bigger age gap. I’ve always tried to help and support Eli. He has done the same thing for me, and that’s why he and I have a good relationship."
The last time you time played each other, Eli was a young quarterback in the developmental stages. Do you see this matchup now as a little more equal?
"Yeah, certainly there is a big difference between being in your second year and being in your seventh. There’s a difference in experience for any player in the amount of time that you’d played, especially at quarterback. Certainly, a lot has happened since that game four years ago. It’s two different teams, I think. We have a different head coach, we have different assistant coaches, a lot of different players. There is not many players that were on defense for the Giants for that game four years ago. There is a lot of new players there. I think it’s a different situation."
You have had a very high profile over the years. Do you find yourself pulling back publicly?
"I would agree with that. I think certainly when you get into your 13th year, your time becomes football. Physically, there are certain things you have to do to get ready to play and get ready to train. I’ve tried to keep my time available to concentrate more on football. I’m trying to think of how I want to phrase this. I’ve always had football as the top priority, I feel like in the past couple years, I have cut back on some of the other stuff."
Did Eli always mimick you, as in dressing like you did and do what you did, when you both were younger?
"I don’t know if I ever necessarily noticed that, so I think he could give you a better answer to that. I always felt very fortunate being the middle child. I had an older brother to look up to, and a younger brother who I could hang out with. I always felt good about being the middle child and having the best of both worlds."
The Colts aren’t really familiar with 0-2 out there, how badly does this team need a win?
"It’s an important game. Certainly we didn’t play well enough against Houston in the opener. We are playing an excellent team on Sunday. I’ve always said the team you’re playing doesn’t care what happened to you the week before, whether you had a huge win or a disappointing loss. It’s up to us to try and play better. It really starts with practice this week, trying to have a good practice in order to get ready for this week’s game."
You talked about Eli evolving as a quarterback, how about your personal relationship with him?
I don’t think it has really changed. I think our relationship has been that way for some time now. He and I are very close friends as well as brothers. It’s like the same for me and my brother Cooper. I think the three of us get along well. I don’t give advice to Eli unless he asks for it. There are certain things I ask him about, too, about football and what not. He certainly is a grown man, and he has a lot of experience. I just try to be there for him when he needs me, and I know it’s the same way that he’s there for me."
How often do you guys talk every week, has that changed this week?
"It just depends. There is no set schedule. Depending on the week, whether it’s a day game, night game, Monday night game. It just depends, usually though it winds up being about twice a week."
Where does Eli rank in all the people you know who know football well?
"I think Eli is at the top. I’ve never said that I know it better than anybody else and sometimes people assume things or give me credit for things that may not necessarily be true. Eli is an experienced NFL quarterback that plays probably in the toughest division in football. He sees tremendously complicated defenses every single week, but always twice a year from Philadelphia, the Redskins, and the Cowboys. He’s seen three different (defensive) coordinators on his team the past three years, which every day in practice, he is seeing different looks. He hasn’t missed a start. It’d be hard to find a guy who knows more about defense and is experienced like Eli is because he has been in every single Sunday and he’s always ready to play. He takes the cerebral part very seriously, and usually when I call or talk to him, he’s studying, so that’s what a quarterback’s supposed to do in my opinion."
Who is the better golfer?
"Eli and I are pretty good partners, actually. We usually play together if we’re playing somebody or playing together, usually we’re partners. We’re pretty good at brother in lawing, if you can do that as brothers as I guess. We’re good partners."
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