Eli Manning will face his older brother for the third time in their NFL careers on Sunday, but it wasn’t too long ago that neither was sure they would be able to do so.
Eli said in his weekly WFAN interview that there were thoughts even inside the family that Peyton’s career was over due to the injuries and surgeries in his neck.
“I think there was definitely some concern after the number of surgeries he’s had on his neck,” Eli said. “The way he was throwing the football even as of February, March before he went to the Broncos, it wasn’t the same. He had just lost a lot of strength in his arm and it wasn’t a sure thing he was going to come back and be able to play at the level he was used to, so I think there was a lot of concern.
“I knew he was going to work hard and do everything and give it a shot to come back,” Eli continued, “but I think he probably had some doubts also, because with nerves, it’s how long does it take to get your strength back and there’s nothing you can do to control that. It’s a matter of how fast the nerves kind of kick back in and gaining your strength. I think there was a lot of concern during that time.”
Whatever concern there was seems to have been allayed by the seven touchdown passes Peyton threw against the Ravens last week.
Eli said he was glad the Giants play the Broncos in Week 2 and not Week 1, which would have prompted an entire offseason of questions about the matchup. Now, he only has to deal with it for a week. And in typical Eli fashion, he was more concerned about the Giants beating the Broncos than himself beating Peyton.
“It’s obviously a big game,” he said. “It’s a big game for us because of the circumstances. We’re 0-1 right now and playing a team that had one of the best records in the NFL last year if not the best. And they’re off a big win beating Baltimore, so we have to bounce back and offensively we have to play better and we have to find a way to win this game. It’s a big game because of where it stands in the season and what it means for this team.”
Eli said he probably will curtail his usual scouting sessions with Peyton.
“I guess we might have a quick conversation,” Eli said. “It’ll be pretty much strictly on family or something else. We probably won’t talk much about the previous games we’ve played. You don’t want to give any tips. I don’t want to talk about what we’re doing offensively and give him anything to tell his defensive coordinator and vice versa, so it’ll be a fairly quick conversation and maybe just kind of just a little brotherly chat but obviously no football will be discussed.”
That’s right. Eli said there will be no football on the phone.