LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Besides Chicago and Seattle, the city most excited about Sunday's Bears-Seahawks playoff game might be Corsicana, Texas.
"We grew up around each other, his family and my family lived two blocks away from each other," Manning said Thursday. "We hung out, that's what we did, the whole neighborhood. David and my brother played Pop Warner football together and are really close. But we all played together. I sort of felt like I was also David's older brother growing up."
Teammates for one season together at Corsicana High School, Manning and Hawthorne took different paths to the NFL. Manning, despite playing collegiate ball Division II Abilene-Christian (he originally signed with Nebraska out of high school), was drafted in the second round by the Bears in the 2006 NFL draft and immediately jumped into the starting lineup as a rookie.
Hawthorne was an undrafted rookie free agent out of TCU who had to play special teams for a season before starting at linebacker for the Seahawks in 2009.
"We have the same agent, share the same town, we know each other so well," Manning said. "I called him up and congratulated him on the win vs. New Orleans, and then told me to watch out because we're [Seattle] coming out to Chicago. But I'm excited for him, he's having a great career. I feel like I had a part in seeing him grow as a player that he is now. I really tried to be a positive influence in his life."
Although he's yet to become a household name, Hawthorne has led the Seattle defense in tackles the past two seasons (116, 105), and turned in the finest performance of his career against the Bears in Week 3 last season. In his first career start, made 16 stops and one interception in the Bears' 29-25 victory at Qwest Field.
"He let me know about that game," Manning said. "He was like, I got you last time. But seriously, he has the drive, determination and can definitely play. It's going to be so exciting. We might jaw at each other a little bit during the game, but it's all in fun. I couldn't be happier for him."