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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The anticipation and hype leading up to the first Manning Bowl was so over the top that the only things missing were high-priced Super Bowl commercials complete with celebrities and CGI special effects.
While many were looking forward to kicking off the 2006 season with a little Manning family feud, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning couldn't wait to get the first game in NFL history featuring two brothers at quarterback over and done with.
|Peyton and Eli Manning are both Pro Bowl quarterbacks and Super Bowl champions.|
"In 2006, it was overload because right when people found out we were playing the game [when the schedule was released] in April, we got questions about it," Eli said. "You get sick of answering the same question over and over and over again for five months, and it was just too much."
That is why when both brothers first saw the 2010 schedule, they were pleased to see that Giants-at-Colts was in Week 2 this time around.
"I know both of us were very relieved," said Peyton, who beat his little brother and the Giants, 26-21, in the first encounter. "Four years ago, we had all the questions, all preseason."
Since then, a lot of questions have been answered, especially pertaining to the younger Manning brother. Manning Bowl: The Sequel will be different for many reasons other than the date on the schedule.
Instead of starting off just his second full season as a starter, Eli enters the rematch with his big brother as an established veteran who has a Super Bowl ring to match Peyton's.
Now in his seventh season, Eli has made his own name and emerged out of Peyton's shadow.
Giants backup quarterback Jim Sorgi has spent countless hours with both Manning brothers. He was Peyton's backup for six seasons. This year he was signed to be Eli's second set of eyes until he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and landed on injured reserve. Still, Sorgi has spent enough time around both Mannings that he practically should be the fourth Manning brother after Cooper, Peyton and Eli.
If any player in the NFL is qualified to talk about the differences between the two, it's Sorgi.
"Their mannerisms are the same the way they talk, the way they do certain things, you can just tell that their DNA is the same," Sorgi said of the two.
But Eli has grown up a lot since Manning Bowl I, both on and off the field. He has become a Super Bowl winner, and he is now married and will turn 30 in January.
"He is a grown man and the Giants are his team and he knows that and he has matured in the game of football and life," Sorgi said. "He might have been the little brother, but little brother is up for the challenge."
Peyton offered up perhaps one of the biggest compliments an NFL quarterback can receive. Widely regarded as the smartest quarterback in the game, Peyton said his little brother owns one of the smartest football minds in the NFL.
The two brothers typically talk twice a week during the season, and Peyton said his brother is usually buried in film study or his playbook whenever he calls.
"I think Eli is at the top," the Colts quarterback said. "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."
Both Mannings have seen and experienced everything -- including what it's like to play against each other on national television.
Now, Eli visits Peyton's Place more experienced and ready to even things up.
More than anything else, the Manning brothers would probably like to get this week out of the way as quickly as possible and no longer have to answer any more questions about brother versus brother.
"For us, they are trying to make it [the] Manning Bowl," said the Giants quarterback, who passed for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in that loss to the Colts in '06. "Two quarterbacks are never dueling against each other. It is not a boxing match. It is the Giants versus the Colts."
And with that, Eli was asked one final question about his brother. What if it were Eli versus Peyton in a boxing ring?
They'd probably have to bring Don King in to promote the blockbuster fight.
"You don't want to see that," Eli said with a smile. "[It would be] a draw."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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