Who is the main Manning?

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

WHY IT'S PEYTON

The one and only time Archie Manning coached his son in organized sport, he was berated by young Peyton for filling the team's basketball roster with his son's pals rather than the best players around.

The only characteristic that matches Manning's talent, it seems, is his obsessive desire to win.

"He's probably the hardest-working guy I've been around," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "I've never seen a guy with so much ability and the dedication to match."

Peyton was so obsessed with football while in high school that he studied the media guides of all the colleges that were recruiting him.

At age three, he already had mastered the five-step drop and by the time he was 10 was studying his dad's game tape with the New Orleans Saints. For Peyton Manning, there was nothing else but following his father's footsteps to the NFL.

It's hard to believe now that there was even a question as to who would be taken first overall in 1998. But at the time, the great debate was whether the Colts would select Manning, who had finished a record-setting career at Tennessee, or Ryan Leaf.

To find flaws in Manning, who could set every NFL passing record going by the time he is done playing, one has to resort to nit-picking.

If there is a knock, it is that he has yet to prove he can win "the big one." Each time he has been in such a situation, he has come up decidedly small, particularly in back-to-back playoff losses to the Patriots.

As well, he has shown a tendency to get flustered when things don't go his way or his team is trailing.

Though they are virtually the same height and weight and are both best described as pocket passers, one knock on Peyton is that he isn't as fast on his feet as his brother.

On the flipside, Peyton was a Pro Bowler by his second year and is the only NFL quarterback to open a career with six consecutive 3,000-yard plus seasons. His 49 TD passes last season broke a record held by Dan Marino that many thought wouldn't be broken.

A reflection of his studious ways, there probably isn't a quarterback in the NFL more adept at detecting weaknesses in a defence at the line.

Is Eli better than Peyton? Pretty tough to make that case.

The way things are going thus far in the older brother's career, the more appropriate question might be is there a better quarterback period.

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WHY IT'S ELI

Peyton Manning was a football geek. Elisha Manning was a momma's boy.

So in the older brother's zeal to make his sibling come to his way of thinking, Peyton would pin Eli to the ground and force feed him some pigskin knowledge.

"I could tell you every quarterback in the SEC for the last 20 years," Peyton said. "We had to teach Eli the 12 teams in the SEC before he went to Ole Miss."

That laid-back approach speaks to the difference between the pair destined to become the most successful brother tandem in NFL history.

Cool under pressure is Eli's calling card, a stark difference in style to Peyton's demonstrative intensity.

"I've never coached a player who has so much fun playing the game," Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe said.

Cutcliffe is a reliable source on the Mannings. While at Tennessee, he was the offensive co-ordinator who groomed Peyton before becoming the head coach at Ole Miss where Eli was his star.

In their high shool days at Isadore Newman in New Orleans both Mannings put up huge numbers. Peyton threw for 7,189 yards and 92 touchdowns while five years later, Eli clocked in at 7,389 yards and 89 TDs through his career.

In college, both brothers won the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards while piling up the numbers and both were first overall picks in the NFL draft.

Eli finished his NCAA days fifth in SEC history with 9,860 passing yards. Of course Peyton is the career conference leader with 11,201.

After 16 games as an NFL starter, Eli has more wins than Peyton did in the rookie season in which he started every game (7-9 to 3-13). Remember too that from the day he first put on a Colts uniform, Peyton has been surrounded by exceptional offensive talent that doesn't compare to Eli's accompaniment in New York.

Like Peyton, who was picked off 28 times as a rook, Eli has had his struggles. Just last week he had his worst day as a pro in a four-interception mess against the Vikings.

"There's still going to be some hiccups for sure," Archie Manning said of Eli. "But he's steadily improving."

Given all Peyton has accomplished as a pro, how could a GM take Eli over his brother? For now, such a decision would have to be based on speculation as to where the Giants QB may be in five years. But Eli is showing signs of getting there.

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BROTHERS IN THE HUDDLE

The Mannings could become the best brother duo in NFL history. Here are some other recent siblings to play in NFL:

Shannon Sharpe was a record-setting tight end, while brother Sterling was a five-time Pro Bowl receiver.

Ronde Barber is a two-time Pro Bowl DB for the Bucs. Tiki has set several Giants records for running backs.

Tim Hasselback is a backup QB with the Giants. Matt is quietly leading the Seahawks to a strong 2005 season.


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