Archie's one Super dad

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As a football player and a father, Archie Manning never had it in his mind to raise superstar sons.

Now the southern gentleman from New Orleans is the Northern Dancer of the NFL.

The Dancer, for those who don't know, was Canada's greatest race horse, a star on the track but an even bigger stud off of it. The majority of recent Kentucky Derby winners and champions from the world over have his blood in their lineage.

That's nothing compared to good old Archie, a fair quarterback with the New Orleans Saints but now a Super dad.

First it was Peyton, blitzing through the NFL record book through most of his 10-year career before winning the Super Bowl and being named MVP with his spectacular performance for the Indianapolis Colts a year ago.

Then on Sunday night, it was time for the baby of the family to grow up, not just before the eyes of the Mannings but on the biggest stage in North American sport.

Eli Manning's two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII were marked by precision and poise. The game-winning one, which included two spectacular throws and was capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, already has epic status in the title game's lore.

The Giants' 17-14 dismantling of the New England Patriots will be remembered as much for Manning's clutch performance as the end of the latter's undefeated season.

So now Archie Manning, who never got a chance to play in a post-season game for those awful Saints teams (much less a championship) is the Super sire of all time.

"I never thought about them even playing college ball, much less pro football, much less winning Super Bowls or MVPs," Manning said of his boys as the Giants celebration unfolded behind him.

"It wasn't in the plan. We tried to raise kids. We raised kids just like other parents raised their kids. I can't explain it."

Good kids too, by most measures.

In Peyton, it was all flash. His record-setting season in 2004 made him an elite player at his position and his championship a year ago cemented it. Of even greater importance to Archie and Olivia Manning is that he has stayed true to the values they instilled in him at a young age.

On the field, Peyton is the picture of intensity with his mannerisms and drive that manifests itself on every play. Off of it he is polite, thoughtful and the consummate older brother.

Which brings us to baby Eli, who differed from Peyton in almost every way. When they were kids, Peyton devoured the sports pages, was a stats geek who lived and breathed sports. Eli was none of the above, often to the frustration of his older sibling.

But that calm demeanour served him well when he went to New York as a No. 1 quarterback expected to lead the Giants for years. That's enough weight to make a guy crumble, especially in New York where the cult of celebrity can be smothering.

Eli just shrugged it off though, an attitude that was mistakenly viewed by some as indifference, but ultimately was the quality that led his team to a win that will be ranked as one of the great upsets in Super Bowl history.

For big brother Peyton, it was difficult to watch at times but ultimately beyond rewarding.

"Eli and I bleed for each other," Peyton said. "I guarantee you I am more involved in the game he is playing than any other NFL game. I was pumped, and I got a lot of messages telling me to calm down because I was excited and pumped after the big plays he was making."

With quarterbacking in their blood, big brother and proud father took special appreciation from this historic effort on that victorious final drive that will be remembered for as long as they stick the roman numerals after the sport's biggest game.

"That's what quarterbacking is about," Archie Manning said of the winning march. "It can define you. You are not going to do it every time, but you need to experience that some to know that you can do it. We are very proud."


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