SAN FRANCISCO — Dinner was on Eli.
When the Giants quarterback and his Super Bowl sibling Peyton Manning met for a meal in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday night — their first face-to-face exchange since July — Eli Manning said he felt he wanted to help out any way he could. So that meant footing the bill.
“I picked up the check for big brother,” Eli Manning said on Wednesday. “It’s the least I can do. I know he’s got to buy a lot of tickets this week for friends, so I figured I could do my part and buy him a dinner.”
What was on the menu may have been less interesting than what was being said at the power powwow between quarterbacks who, as of Sunday, will have started in six of the past 10 Super Bowls.
“We just talked about brotherly things, and maybe a little football got mixed in,” Eli Manning said. “It was good to see him, and obviously I’ll be rooting for him hard on Sunday.”
This isn’t the first time the two have been together for a Super Bowl. The first was after the 2006 season when Peyton made his debut in Super Bowl XLI. At that time Eli Manning spoke about how he was excited to see his brother play in the big game, but he was also yearning for his own experience. That came the following season when he and the Giants won Super Bowl XLII.
Now that Eli Manning has two rings and two Super Bowl MVP awards, is it any easier to be a spectator?
No, Manning said.
“Talking to him this past week, it reminds you of those moments, those days after you win the championship game, the excitement with your teammates,” he said. “The planning for the Super Bowl, who you are inviting. Even the nuances of handling tickets and how are you going to get tickets and where are they staying. You want to go through that again, you want to go through those moments. Even talking about Media Day and some of the silly questions, hey, it’s a good problem to have.”
Eli and the rest of the family will be in Santa Clara for the game on Sunday. Asked if he will be watching the game as a fan or as a quarterback, Eli added a third option.
“I’ll watch it as a little brother, I guess, rooting for my big brother to go out there and play well,” he said. “I would say I automatically turn into a Broncos fan when I’m watching Peyton play, rooting for the defense to get stops, rooting for the offense to score well and hoping they can get a win.”
Earlier this week Peyton Manning spoke about how excitable he gets watching Eli play, sometimes losing himself in the games on television when he should be preparing for his own game later in the day. The images of Peyton Manning celebrating Eli’s Super Bowl XLII victory are woven into the kaleidoscope of that day. Eli said he, too, finds himself caught up in being a fan.
“I get emotional about it and hopefully I’ll have lots of reasons to cheer and get excited [on Sunday],” he said. “Through the playoffs this year and just watching the games at home, the wife’s definitely heard me yell a few times about a drop or want to know what’s going on. I’m rooting for him hard and want him to win every game that he’s playing, unless he’s obviously playing the Giants. Always rooting for him, always want him to have success and play well and for his team to win.”
Even if it costs him the occasional dinner.