INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Manning has lived in the shadow of older brother, Peyton, all of his life.
Whatever successes Eli has had on the football field, they often paled in comparison to his brother.
It was that way in high school and then in college.
Then came the pros, and something began to change. Peyton was the first pick in the 1998 National Football League draft. Eli, meanwhile, went first in 2004. Peyton was the winning quarterback and game MVP in Super Bowl XLI. Eli did the same a year later in Super Bowl XLII.
This year, though, Eli has a golden opportunity to get a leg up on his celebrated sibling. The "baby" of the Manning family has a chance to move to the front of the class by annexing a second Super Bowl title.
If that happens — if Eli can lead his New York Giants team to a second championship game victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium — he can make a statement.
"If you play this game long enough, you realize how precious each season is and how precious these opportunities are. You don’t know if you’re going to get a chance to play in another Super Bowl," Manning acknowledged during the Giants' initial press conference of Super Bowl Week.
"You understand that when you have a good team, when you have good players, you have an opportunity to win a championship, you don’t want to let those things slip away because you just don’t know when you’re going to get that opportunity."
Being the youngest of three highly competitive brothers, Eli Manning learned early to stand up for himself. A second Most Valuable Player award in the Super Bowl could go a long way to helping him to escape the giant shadow that Peyton Manning casts.