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Mannings say Eli is unchanged by Super Bowl win

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) -Eli Manning won a Super Bowl, got married, visited the White House, golfed at St. Andrews and then returned to south Louisiana this week to take part in the same football camp his family has hosted for 13 years.

Is he a changed man?

Hardly, say brother Peyton and father Archie.

"Eli's not going to change," Archie Manning said Friday at the Manning Passing Academy, a weekend-long instructional camp for 1,000 players grades 9-12.

The event has brought the patriarch of football's first family and his sons together since Eli was in high school. Eli was a camper for the first few years and Peyton a young counselor on summer break from Tennessee.

Archie, who never pressured his sons to be football players, recalled being unsure whether Eli attended the camp out of love for the sport or a sense of obligation to family. His most vivid memory of his youngest son was the way the shorter shorts - in style back then - accentuated Eli's adolescent physique.

"Eli had the longest, skinniest, whitest legs," said Archie, who played in the NFL 15 years, mostly with the Saints, and still lives in New Orleans. "I couldn't tell whether he had fun or not, whether he really wanted to be there. I think he knew he was expected to be there."

Today, the baby of the family is a camp instructor who weighs nearly 230 pounds, stands 6-foot-4 and owns a newly made Super Bowl ring that he earned in a dramatic 17-14 victory last February over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.

He has played four NFL seasons, facing the highest expectations and not always meeting them. He often took a beating from the intense New York media because of inconsistent play.

Eli claimed he didn't pay attention to any of it. He said he enjoys following news about other NFL teams, but not the Giants. If he made an exception to see how great people thought he was after his Houdini-like, game-winning drive in the Super Bowl, it doesn't show in the way he talks about himself or his team.

In his typical easygoing manner, Eli avoided the invitation to pound his chest about his recent triumphs and instead offered a more levelheaded assessment of his most recent season.

"We played four good games at the end of the season. That's kind of the way I looked at it," Eli said. "But you look earlier, we played five or six games that were not good at all. I've made a lot of bad throws."

Eli still thinks Peyton, whose Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, is a better quarterback, if not the best quarterback in the NFL.

"I'm not trying to compete with Peyton. I'm trying to get to his level of play," Eli said. "I'm trying to improve my game. I go back and look at every play from the year before. There's some good ones, but there's a lot of bad ones. There's a lot of room for improvement."

As for the TV ads that so often feature Peyton, Eli expects similar opportunities to come his way, but whether he cashes in on them is another matter.

"He didn't do 90 percent of the things people wanted him to do" after the Super Bowl, Archie said. "He got asked to do a lot of things, but Eli knows himself. He's very comfortable with who he is."

That's not to say he didn't enjoy his offseason. He said he loved the championship parade the Giants received in New York, the ring ceremony with teammates and the team's trip to the White House.

He also married Abby McGrew, his girlfriend since college at Ole Miss, on Mexico's Baja Peninsula in April. Recently, he joined his father, Peyton and oldest brother Cooper on a golf trip to Scotland.

Peyton said it was obvious that the Scots, while they may prefer rugby and soccer, at least watch the Super Bowl.

"The caddies all knew who we were," Peyton said.

So did many of the golfers on the course who dropped their clubs and grabbed their cameras when they noticed the Manning family on a neighboring fairway.

Back in football country this weekend, Peyton relished the chance to highlight his younger brother's recent success.

"It was equally satisfying for me to watch Eli win a Super Bowl as it was for me and my teammates to win it the year before," Peyton said. "Eli's had a lot of comparisons in his life, certainly comparisons to me in the NFL ... to my Dad, a legend there at Ole Miss.

"He's just very much remained himself the entire time," Peyton continued. "Sometimes I get kind of protective and defensive of him when somebody else is criticizing him, kind of being a natural older brother. But the way Eli handles it is kind of a good lesson for me as well, just to stay real even-keeled."

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