The plan was to wear neutral colors and cheer for whichever offense was on the field. What other kind of plan could Archie and Olivia Manning have had? How else could they have avoided hurting someone's feelings, the appearance of preferring one son over the other.
This is the third time they've had to do this, the third time they have had to watch their famous quarterback sons, Eli and Peyton, go head to head in an NFL game. But that didn't make it any easier for Archie and Olivia to sit through the Broncos' 41-23 win over the Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
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The bottom line is that every time their sons meet, one of them has to come out a loser. That's OK if it's a family game of ping pong or golf. But in the NFL, where so much can ride on a win or a loss, that's a lot tougher.
That may be why Archie Manning was standing outside his youngest son's locker room after the game. Eli is 0-3 against his older brother and will end his career winless against him if their teams don't meet in the Super Bowl. Peyton, 37, said Sunday that he doesn't plan to still be playing football in four years, when the teams would play next. And that would just be fine with Archie.
"I hate to see one of them struggle,'' he said.
Eli certainly did struggle, getting picked off four times, finishing with 362 yards and completing 28 of 49 passes. Peyton, who unlike Eli was helped by a solid ground attack, looked to be completely in control of the game. He threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns, completing 30 of 43.
It was a surprising performance, considering that both brothers threw for more than 400 yards in Week 1, marking the first time that two quarterbacks had met in a game after doing that.
Before the game, the brothers were able to get together and chat privately for about 10 minutes. After the rout, the brothers shared a quick handshake while they were swarmed by a mob of photographers and television cameras. Both had rather pained looks.
"It's a strange feeling,'' Peyton said in his postgame news conference. "It's not like beating another team. It's not quite as enjoyable as it would be if you were beating somebody else. It's a strange situation here, strange circumstances. It's a good team win, but it's kind of hard. It's a unique situation.''
Compounding the pain is the fact that the Giants and Broncos look to be headed in opposite directions. Denver is 2-0, having looked dominant in both games. The Giants are 0-2 and looking more than a bit desperate on offense, as Eli has thrown seven interceptions.
Though there was a lot of talk about bragging rights in the Manning Bowl before the game, Eli said he doesn't think his brother is going to tease him much about this loss.
"I don't think so,'' Eli said. "I think this is something that we're both passionate about. What we're doing is our job.''
A job that very few get to do, which is why the Manning family knows that they are lucky to have these kinds of problems.
"We look at it as an honor, part of the journey,'' Archie said.