I’ve always liked the Mannings. Unless you have school allegiances that prohibit such fondness, it’s hard not too. But it’s impossible to not respect what the First Family of Southern Football has accomplished on the gridiron in its storied history:
*Peyton finished 2nd in the Heisman voting in 1997, Eli finished 3rd in 2003, and Archie finished 4th in 1969 and 3rd in 1970
*Peyton and Eli were both selected #1 overall in the NFL draft. Archie was taken 2nd
*While Archie never played on a good team in college or the pros, Peyton and Eli have now won back-to-back Super Bowls and been named game MVPs
*Archie was named to 2 Pro Bowls, Peyton has been to 9 (including 7 straight), and while Eli hasn’t been to one yet, he did lead the Giants to 11 straight wins away from home in one season, something no one else has ever done
That said, both had rough transitions from college to the NFL. Many "experts" argued that the Colts should've drafted Ryan "I had one good year at Wazoo" Leaf instead of Peyton. Robbed of the Heisman by ESPN campaign for Charles Woodson, Peyton had the pedigree and years of success that made him the obvious choice, but you'd never know it from the "experts".
Eli was one of the most hated players in the league before he took his first snap. The always classy San Diego Chargers organization leaked the fact that Eli didn't want to play for them. While it was a brash statement from Eli, it was done privately. The Chargers were the ones who decided to go public with it. This galvanized much of the nation into celebrating every interception (and there were lots) his first few years in the league.
Now, their silence is deafening. In the highest-rated - and arguably most exciting Super Bowl ever - no one played it cool better than Eli. Thrust into more of a leadership role this season with shiny-toothed asshat Tiki Barber retiring and TE Jeremy Shockey breaking his leg late in the season, Eli came through time after time. The leadership role fit him well, particularly away from the overbearing New York media. The Giants didn't lose away from home after Week 1 and now, in just his 4th year in the league, Eli has a Super Bowl ring to match his brother's.
So congratulations to all the Mannings, but particularly Eli this season. After what he's endured over the past few years, no one is more deserving of this recognition. Both Eli and Peyton were branded as overhyped QBs who couldn't win the big games. Now each has a shiny piece of jewelry that says otherwise.