Archie Manning still basking in sons' success, eager for more

LOS ANGELES -- Archie Manning admits it. He's getting greedy.

The patriarch of America's reigning first family of football wants sons Peyton and Eli to keep going back to the Super Bowl.

Just not at the same time.

The Manning family celebrated Peyton's first NFL championship when the Indianapolis Colts won the 2007 Super Bowl. Then came an encore when Eli guided the upstart New York Giants to this year's title. What's more, each was the game's MVP in this remarkable brother act.

"I'm being greedy here, but I'd love for each to go back to another Super Bowl and each win another Super Bowl or more," Archie said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But as a parent, not against each other. Obviously it would be a long shot, but if they ever played in the Super Bowl against each other, it wouldn't be fun.

"We couldn't celebrate that game because somebody's going to win it, great. But somebody's going to lose it, and that's tough. We couldn't celebrate over the loser."

The brothers have played one NFL game against each other, with the Colts beating the Giants 26-21 in a 2006 game in which Peyton and Eli had similar statistics. Looking back, Archie said he was glad it was a good game and both played well.

One lingering image from New York's 17-14 Super Bowl victory over the seemingly invincible New England Patriots was Peyton wildly cheering as his kid brother moved the ball downfield for the winning touchdown.

"I was kind of playing the game up there in the stands," said the 32-year-old Peyton, five years older than Eli. "It was impressive as a quarterback to see how he played that day, but the fact he was (my brother) made it even more special. I had the same feeling I had when we became champions, was just as happy for Eli when the last second ticked off."

Eli, who joined his father and brother in Los Angeles to do a commercial for DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket, said he pulled for his brother the same way a year earlier when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 for the title.

"He had been in the NFL for nine years, close a few times and never getting one. I was fired up for him, rooting hard for him, excited for him," Eli said. "He did the same with me this past season. He was screaming and really getting fired up on that final drive."

Archie, a former standout quarterback at Mississippi, spent more than a decade with the perennially undermanned New Orleans Saints. He said his sons' Super Bowl victories mean more to him than if he had won one himself.

"You wish wonderful things for your children," the 59-year-old father said. "I never got close enough to playing in a Super Bowl to maybe have the regrets that some players do who came so close. We feel real blessed for those two boys to play football, but for them both to play in a Super Bowl, for both of them to win a Super Bowl, we truly feel blessed."

He and wife Olivia often are asked whether they're the proudest parents around.

"I'm one of them," Archie said with a smile. "Sometimes Olivia and I, when it's quieted down and we're sitting home, we look over at each other and say, 'Can you believe this?'

"Olivia and I didn't get married and say we hope we have boys so we can mold them to be pro football players. We didn't wish for boys or girls, and we have three wonderful children, three boys that have given us a lot of joy. But it wasn't part of the plan to play football. We just tried to raise kids."

He and Olivia attend a few games each season, but mostly watch Peyton and Eli on TV. Archie, who joined DirecTV as a spokesman in 1998, said he's got his son-watching system down to a science, even when they're playing at the same time.

"I know how to split the screen and get them both," he said with a hint of pride in his technical prowess. "And what really drives my wife crazy is when I've got both games on the split screen and I bring my radio in and listen to the Saints at the same time. She doesn't care for that."

Peyton said he and Eli, although both quite young when their dad retired from football, have learned a lot about him as a player.

"He was a tremendous competitor, always kept himself in great shape, took a lot of pride in working out and keeping himself injury-free to be there on Sunday," Peyton said. "Naturally it had an impact on Eli and me, as far as working out in the offseason and keeping in good shape and being accountable to your teammates."

Then there were the bruising brother-on-brother basketball matchups in the backyard. First, with the eldest of the three, Cooper, teaching Peyton some hard-earned lessons, then eventually, Peyton doing the same to Eli. Cooper, a promising wide receiver who had to give up football at Ole Miss because of an injury, is two years older than Peyton.

"Dad was a little worried one of us would get hurt," Eli recalled. "And after a while he took the backboards down because he didn't want us playing anymore."

The family is scattered now, with the brothers living in the cities where they play and Archie in New Orleans.

"We are very close. We try to make time for each other, whether it's coming to New Orleans for a weekend or whatever," Eli said. "Cooper's is kind of the house where you hang out now. He's got the three kids, our niece and nephews, so we'll go over there and hang out with his kids and have fun."

Archie and Olivia finally have a girl in the family, Cooper's 5-year-old daughter, May.

"Poor mom's been to more football, basketball and baseball games than any woman deserves to go to," Eli said. "So she's been excited to have a little girl to spoil, go shopping, go to lunch."

As for extending the family tradition, Eli joked that grandsons Arch, 4, and Heid, 2, already are getting recruiting letters.

For now, the Mannings have another few months to enjoy their Super Bowl successes. Then, Peyton said, it will be business as usual.

"Two years in a row within our family certainly has been special, but it's nothing we take for granted," he said. "It's been humbling in a lot of ways, to have been a part of the whole process. We'll see, maybe we can try to keep it within the family, but both Eli and I both know it's very much 'What have you done for me lately?"'

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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