But once his dad retired in 1984, eight-year old Peyton needed another QB to emulate and idolize. He made a good choice in Dan Marino, a QB who made his name in the same stadium Peyton will try to win his second Super Bowl in on Sunday.
"Dan Marino's had a tremendous impact on me," Peyton said at Media Day earlier today. "Growing up, my dad was my favorite player, always. He retired in 1984. I was eight years old. Dan Marino was just coming into the NFL.
"I think it's important always to have a favorite player at all times, a current player. So it went from Archie Manning, to Dan Marino, and then once Dan retired [in 1999], Eli was just starting to play college ball [at Ole Miss], so Eli Manning became my favorite player.
"So I've always had good favorite players. But Dan, always love the way he competed and the way he commanded the offense. He's been so supportive of me since he's retired. I ask a lot of questions of him ... Nobody will ever throw the ball like Dan Marino. I truly consider him a friend, and I value his friendship."
There was talk a few years ago that Manning's legacy would be much like Marino's — someone who put up extraordinary numbers but never won a title.
But Manning got the monkey off his back by winning Super Bowl XLI, and now he looks to join greats like John Elway, Bart Starr and Roger Staubach as a two-time champion.