Manning brothers among several intriguing Pro Bowl storylines

HONOLULU -- Peyton Manning's first Pro Bowl experience came when he was just 3 years old.

He watched his father, Archie, from the stands of Aloha Stadium in the NFL's first all-star game in Hawaii. And little brother, Eli, wasn't even born yet.

This time, dad is the one proudly cheering on his sons in the final game in Honolulu -- at least for now, as the NFL experiments with moving the game to the mainland.

"We're very proud," Archie Manning said.

The Manning brothers are on opposite sidelines and the first quarterback-playing brothers in Pro Bowl history.

Peyton, of the Indianapolis Colts, is making his ninth appearance in Hawaii in 11 seasons and will start for the AFC. Meanwhile, Eli is representing the New York Giants and making his Pro Bowl debut as a reserve for the NFC.

So who's dad pulling for?

"No. No. No. No. It doesn't matter," Archie Manning said. "I just don't want anybody to get hurt in this game. I don't care if they play for the Colts or Giants or Patriots or Titans, I don't want anybody to get hurt."

Besides the first QB siblings, Sunday's Pro Bowl also features another intriguing matchup for fans who didn't get enough from the Super Bowl: The Pittsburgh Steelers' shutdown defense vs. the Arizona Cardinals' high-powered offense.

"Maybe the fans want to see an exciting game like that, but I don't know if my heart can take it anymore," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "This is the closest they can get, but this don't even come close to what they want to get back from us."

The world champion Steelers have three members on the AFC squad, and they're all on defense: Farrior, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, who's still trying to catch his breath from his Super Bowl-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.

They'll go up against an NFC offense featuring three starters from the Cardinals: quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

"We can maybe beat them here," said Warner, who's considering retirement. "But I don't know if it's the same consolation as beating them in the Super Bowl."

Farrior doesn't know what to expect from the Cardinals in the Pro Bowl.

"I don't know how they're going to act, if they're going to play hard or they're going to try to enjoy this like everybody else," he said. "But those guys are a great team and they showed the heart of a champion. We just came up with the plays at the end."

Boldin said he's moved on from the Super Bowl.

"This is an all-star game," he said. "We all just want to come out and have fun."

The he added, with a laugh: "It's not anything as far as revenge."

Polamalu didn't like the sound of a mini-rematch of the Super Bowl.

"I don't want any more of them. No way," Polamalu said.

While the world champs have only three representatives, the New York Giants have seven, including Eli Manning and John Carney, the oldest player to participate in the Pro Bowl.

Carney, who's two months away from turning 45, is joined by Giants teammate and punter Jeff Feagles, who's a month shy of turning 43.

One of the highlights of the week came when they showed up at practice wearing leather helmets.

"It looked great," Giants center Shaun O'Hara said. "It looked like their rookie year."

In a twist, Eli Manning, who led the Giants to a Super Bowl win last year, is now a backup to Warner, who he replaced in New York.

Besides possibly being Warner's final game, it may be the final time several players put on their team's helmets because of the possibility of free agency or requests to be traded. Among them is Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins, who isn't worried about his future right now. He's too busy enjoying the scenery.

"It's amazing to look out there and see Tony Gonzalez, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall," he said. "One after the other, it's just phenomenal players. It's a real treat."

For offensive players, the Pro Bowl is a dream come true. With no blitzing and limited defensive schemes, they won't have to worry being tormented by players like Ray Lewis or Joey Porter.

"It's a vanilla defense, so you know you're going to get a lot of one-on-one coverage," Collins said. "So from a quarterback's standpoint, that's all you can ask for."

In his 14th season, Collins is one of the most veteran players in the game. But he knows who's in charge of the AFC.

"Peyton's like the mayor around here," he said.

Peyton in 2012? If not politics, Manning has already shown some promise with acting. Still, Manning insists he'll stick with what he knows best: "I am a meat-head football player," he said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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