SAN FRANCISCO — If Peyton Manning does in fact retire after Super Bowl 50, Eli Manning offered some career advice.
“I offered, if he wants to come be a quality control [coach] for the Giants, maybe he can earn a little respect and see if he can do anything to help out a quarterback in the quarterback room,” Eli said Friday. “I could probably make a call or two and find him a spot.”
It was, of course, a joke. But the reality of a life in which Peyton is not playing football for the first time in his life is beginning to hit Eli.
“I can’t imagine a season when he’s not there, knowing my big brother is not playing in a game,” Eli said. “It was awkward the year [in 2011] that he was injured and he missed a season, but he was still around football and knowing he was going to come back.”
It may have been awkward, but Eli and the Giants also won a Super Bowl that year.
This year Eli is serving multiple roles in and around the Super Bowl. He is a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. He will be honored in a pregame ceremony that will include all living Super Bowl MVPs. And, of course, he’s been a family spokesman as the brother of a starting quarterback in the game.
The Manning brothers even got to enjoy dinner together on Tuesday night. Eli said it may have been 10 years since just the two of them had a meal together.
“It was good to have a little down time with him and enjoy the moment,” he said. “That little grin you have, that feeling he has from playing in the Super Bowl, the excitement, it makes you jealous. It makes you want it that much more. I want to get the Giants back on track, in the playoffs and being a contender for championships.”
Eli also passed along his notes from his game against the Panthers in December. He said he still isn’t sure whether Peyton will retire or not. In fact, he said Peyton has more important things on his mind, and some other big decisions.
“I think his focus right now is totally on figuring out this Carolina defense, getting their offense ready, making calls, making checks, what different cities he can call out at the line of scrimmage,” Eli said.
In other words, this may be the last game for Peyton, but the days of “Omaha!” already may have passed us by.