Q: What are you plans this week? Just go through when you are going to get down there and where you plan to watch the game and all of that.
A: I don't know that I will give all of details of that. But I will definitely be there on Sunday. I was not there at the game against Green Bay mainly because I just needed a little time to get away. It has been a long season for us. And I think most players will tell you, after they finish their season, especially being in the playoffs, all players and coaches need a little time to get away. And not many people want to go see a game — another football game right away. But I promise you I was watching every step of the way against Green Bay and watched that unbelievable game, unbelievable win by the Giants. And just couldn't have been prouder and happier for Eli. He deserves every bit of this because of how hard he has worked and he has really earned this opportunity. But I will definitely be there on Sunday for the Super Bowl. Eli called me and told me that he wanted me to be there. I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Q: Is this a week where you actually try to see Eli or do you give him a lot of space at this point?
A: Oh sure, Eli needs all of the time and space to focus on the task at hand. I think that is the one good thing — the same thing we had last year at the Super Bowl — is to have this bye week before where you can take care of all of your ticket requests and family, hotels, what not, during this bye week early on. Now the Giants are already into their preparation. So I talked to Eli a couple of times during the week. Obviously I talked to him right after the Green Bay game. I called him and he called me back and we talked for awhile that night. And you could just feel the excitement in his voice. I certainly know that feeling. It is pretty fresh in my mind from last year. I was just so happy that he got to experience that same feeling of winning an NFC Championship and going to the Super Bowl. The couple of times we have talked this week, to tell you the truth, it has been — I have been kind of helping him get some tickets. As you know, every NFL player gets two tickets. And so I called all of my Colts teammates, as many as I could get, ones that hadn't given them away already, and helped collect some for Eli. And so I have been working for him a little bit. But I have been glad to do it because obviously a lot of his friends and a lot of our family all want to go to the game. It looks like we are going to give everybody a chance to go.
Peyton and Eli talk after a game in 2006
Travis Lindquist/Getty Images
Q: What is the one characteristic that Eli has, more than anything else, that will help him the most in the Super Bowl?
A: Well, I think Eli has learned a lot in his four years as a starting quarterback. And he has seen a lot of different situations. I think experience is your best teacher. And the more you can draw on your previous experiences for two minute drills, or red zone situations or third-down, fourth-down conversions, knowing that you have done it before, I think you can draw on that. And what he has been able to do in these last three playoff games in as high pressure situations as you could get, on the road playing against some extremely tough opponents in Tampa, Dallas, and of course, Green Bay, facing those kind of weather conditions, I think that is just a real confidence booster for him and their team knowing that he has done it before and he can certainly do it again.
Q: Why do you think — obviously like all young quarterbacks — he has had his ups and downs, but everything seemed to really click in somehow with that last game of the season? Now he has been on this run. Why do you think everything clicked in so suddenly like that for him?
A: It's probably hard to say. Like I said, I'm not sure what he has said when you all have asked him that question. But obviously that is the goal for all teams and for all quarterbacks, is you want to be playing your best football in the month of January. And so sometimes it takes some dips and some bumps and bruises to kind of get through that or to get to that level; seeing what works and kind of what doesn't work. But first and foremost, he has just played outstanding. That is where it has to start. Like I said, his ability to throw the football in those conditions — as his brother, obviously I am proud, but as a quarterback, I just can't tell you how much I appreciate the way he played in those conditions in Green Bay and just coming back from deficits; the same way in Dallas and in Tampa. I'm just telling you, I was so impressed as a quarterback, and like I said, as his brother, I'm extremely proud for him. Obviously I think, and I'm sure he would tell you, that Steve Smith has stepped up for him, coming back from injury. Plaxico has been healthier. It is always easier when your guys — your receivers that are going to be in the games — are there practicing. I think he feels real confident in the new tight end in Boss. He is kind of where he is supposed to be and Eli just has a real good feel for him. And I think the coordinator has called some outstanding plays these past four weeks. I really ... a chance to see all four of their games. We weren't playing against the Patriots, Tampa and Dallas and the Packers. I think Coach Gilbride has put him in some great situations and Eli has really executed.
Q: There is a perception of Eli, from afar, that he is not as demonstrative as you and that he is a pretty quiet guy. How would you describe your brother?
A: I would really disagree with that. Of course I think Eli kind of — I'm sort of wanting not to speak for other people — even my own players — but also other players around the League as far as what I know about them. I feel like I know Eli pretty well and I feel that Eli sort of lets you guys to kind of get to know him probably as much as he wants you all to get to know him. But I think he is very effective as a quarterback and as a leader. And I think the thing I am impressed most about him is his ability to stay extremely calm in the high pressure situations. I know that is something that Coach Dungy always talks to our team about is who can stay calm and cool and collective in the high pressure situations. And that is one thing that Eli has proven in his short career thus far that has really served him well and I promise you it will serve him well down the road. This is obviously the biggest game that he has ever played in. It was certainly the biggest game I had ever played in last year. But I feel he is ready for the opportunity, although I have to say that I feel strongly that this will not be the last Super Bowl that he will play in.
Q: What kind of spectator are you, generally speaking, when you are watching a game that your brother is playing in? Are you pacing; do you sit tight?
A: Yeah, I'm not a really good one. Matter of fact, to tell you the truth, on some games when Eli plays at 1:00 and we have a 4:00 or maybe a Sunday night game, I will actually probably not watch the entire game because I do get emotionally involved. I have always kind of been that way watching Eli play going back to college. At Ole Miss when I was watching him on TV, got to see him play once in person on our bye week. Going back to high school, it was kind of the same way. I would go back and see him play once a year in high school, too. And I think there is just something about just your family out there. It is one thing when you have a close friend out there, a really good buddy, but when it is your brother, or any kind of family, I think there is the emotional tie and you do bleed for one another and you just want him to do well. I pull so hard for him. So I have had to find myself sort of maybe even flipping the channel just because it is emotionally draining when you have a game yourself. And it not fair to me and my teammates if I am not 100 percent ready and rested for the upcoming game. So it is much easier for me to watch games once we have already played or if Eli is playing on a Monday night, whatever it may be, because I am very supportive and passionate about supporting Eli.
Eli Manning looks to pass in a game earlier this season
AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams
Q: Knowing how hard it is to get to a Super Bowl, what makes you so strong in your belief that he will be back again?
A: I just think he has what it takes to lead his team to championships. I have always thought he has that, even before what has happened these last three weeks. The one thing about Eli that I will say — this is just coming from my experience — when I call him on Tuesdays on his off day he is always at the facility lifting weights or studying film. When I call him on Wednesday nights or Thursday nights usually around 9 p.m., which is kind of the best time for us to talk, what is he doing? He is always studying film. And like I said, as a quarterback, I just can't tell you how much I appreciate that kind of work ethic, because I'm very much for the same mode. I think what you put into it is what you are going to get out of it. I can just tell, just being in Indianapolis and from very afar, by just how hard he has worked and how much he puts into it and how seriously he takes his profession. I can tell how disappointed he is when I talk to him after a game on Sunday that they haven't won. He feels accountable. And like I said, that is what you want as a player and as a teammate, for your quarterback to be passionate about it; to be into it; to feel accountable when they don't win and to be excited when they do win. So I think the work ethic is so important. Not to mention he is obviously a great talent. He makes every throw. When he and I throw together in the offseason it is fun to watch him throw. He throws the deep ball as good as anybody in the League, I think. I think his ability to move in the pocket has sort of gone under the radar. I find him, when I watch him play on TV, getting himself out of a lot of tough situations. So I just don't think this will be the last one for him, I really don't.
Q: How special is this for your father to have sons in back to back Super Bowls? How much is he enjoying this?
A: I think our family is really excited. I know it has been a fun past two years. I think, like I said, my parents, my mom and dad, my older brother Cooper, our entire family is extremely excited for what has gone on the past two years. And just couldn't be happier and excited that Eli gets the opportunity to share this special situation. There are a lot of players that don't have a chance to play in the Super Bowl. And the fact that Eli has this opportunity is special. And our family knows how special it is. We are just all happy to be there to support him.
Q: Considering your experience playing against the Patriots the last few years, how would you characterize the challenge that the Giants are going to face a week from Sunday?
A: Yeah, like I said, that is one thing I don't really want to do is be an expert analyst on this Super Bowl. Believe me, there will be plenty of guys willing to share their expertise in the next week and a half. Matter of fact, probably too many, to tell you the truth. So I think the one that is interesting is that the Giants will probably be as familiar with the Patriots as you possibly could since they have played them just over a month ago. So they can go back and review all of the films that they have already studied and just have two more games to study — the Patriots, the Chargers and their Jaguars game. So I think it is a great situation as far as the preparation standpoint in that they have already studied them before and now they can study them even harder and try to get ready. So I think the Giants certainly know what they are getting into.
Q: What is the most important lesson your father taught you and Eli about football and life?
A: It is probably hard to pick one particular lesson. I think the one thing that my dad did instill in both of us is you do have to have an excellent work ethic just to have a chance to get into the NFL, and if you want to last. My dad played 15 years. And if you want to last, you had better work even harder each year than you did the year before. That is something that I have certainly believed in and I feel that has paid off for me. And I can just tell that Eli has already adopted that same attitude. He lives there in New York in the offseason. He doesn't move somewhere else. He doesn't just play in New York. He is a full time resident there and commits himself to the offseason program. So those things help. Another thing my dad always said is to try to have fun. Just try to enjoy this game. Obviously it is more fun when you are winning, no question about that. But if you don't have a passion for it, if you are not enjoying what you are doing, then you probably should be doing something else. I think that is something that both Eli and I have tried to remember. And I thought that was pretty good advice from my dad.