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MANNING VS. MANNING: SIBLING RIVALRY GOES PRO PEYTON, ELI TO SQUARE OFF FOR FIRST TIME.

Byline: MATTHEW KREDELL Staff Writer

Peyton Manning went for the steal at the top of the key and missed, leaving his brother an open lane to the basket.

Eli broke for the hoop, leaped and threw down a slam dunk to take the 1-on-1 game 10-8. It was the first time Eli had beaten his older brother in any sport.

To be fair, it was in the middle of high school basketball season for Eli while Peyton, who was the starting quarterback for the University of Tennessee at the time, hadn't shot a basketball in five years.

But growing up with the ultra-competitive Peyton five years his senior, Eli would take any victory he could get.

``It was one thing to lose to your little brother,'' Eli said. ``But to get dunked on the last play, he wasn't too happy about it.''

Peyton will have his chance at revenge today when he and Eli become the first brothers to start against each other at quarterback in an NFL game.

With Eli's New York Giants hosting Peyton's Indianapolis Colts, it also will be the first time the brothers have faced off on opposing football teams.

What a way to kick off the season.

Peyton said the brothers probably would talk on the phone Saturday, when his plane arrived in New Jersey, as they usually speak before to game day.

But this won't be their normal chat, in which they compare Xs and Os and give any tips they have on the other's opponent.

``Obviously, I don't think we'll have the same content of conversation this week,'' Peyton said. ``... It will probably be pretty normal brother conversation. How are you feeling, what's going on, and the same old, same old. As far as football talk, it's pretty limited on that basis.''

The brothers don't want to give anything away in what looks to be a highly competitive game. The teams combined for 25 victories during the regular season last year, each winning its division title. They enter this season with higher aspirations.

``This is made for TV,'' Colts coach Tony Dungy said of the game, which will be televised at 5:15 p.m. on Channel 4. ``They couldn't have asked for anything better -- two really good teams, two playoff teams from last year, playing in NewYork on opening night with a story line that's never happened before in the NFL. You couldn't have scripted it any better.

``I think both of those guys are trying to do a good job of looking at this game as what it is -- a really tough game that one team's going to come out 1-0.''

And one team, and one brother, is going to come out of it 0-1, which will make it tough on the family.

The Manning name has a hint of American royalty. The Mannings are to football what the Kennedys are to politics.

Archie Manning starred as a quarterback at Ole Miss, playing in the first prime-time broadcast of a college game in 1969. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior and was later elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. In a 13-year NFL career with the New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings, Archie was a two-time Pro Bowler.

Peyton, 30, grew up around the game along with his older brother, Cooper, who went to Ole Miss as a receiver before his career ended because of injury.

Peyton went to Saints practices to watch Archie play. He would go back into the locker room and sometimes go on road trips. He was 8 years old when his father retired. Football has been foremost in his thoughts for as long as he can remember.

``That had a big influence on me,'' Peyton said. ``I liked watching the game, I liked the players and had a little passion about it.''

Eli doesn't remember his father's playing days. His earliest memories of football were being dragged to his brothers' games. It wasn't until high school that his own future in the sport became apparent.

``Cooper and I played a lot of pick-up games, we had a lot of neighborhood games,'' Peyton said. ``Eli, being five years younger, just wasn't quite old enough to play in those same games. So, no one in our family expected this to be the case at any point.''

Despite their differences growing up, the brothers ended up in similar spots. They were both No. 1 overall selections in the NFL draft, and they've been successes since joining the league.

Peyton's statistics are second to none. The 49 touchdown passes he threw in 2004 are an NFL record.

Eli finished his first full season as a starter ranked in the league's top five in touchdown passes and yards in 2005.

``In my opinion, he is the best,'' Eli said of Peyton. ``I like him, I like what he does and he's definitely a benchmark in what I need to do (to) raise my level of play.''

Archie and his wife, Olivia, will be sitting in a luxury suite at Giants Stadium, trying to avoid the endless family reaction shots that television stations love to show.

``I know it's going to be difficult and awkward for my family and my parents, and I know they will just try to get through it,'' Peyton said. ``But Eli and I are excited about the game actually being here.''

This could be one of only two times the brothers face each other in their careers. The next time the Giants and Colts play is expected to be in 2010. They might go again in 2014, but Peyton could be retired by then.

``The way Peyton and my relationship is, we've never competed much,'' Eli said. ``We're not the type to rub it in, or make this something we brag about. ... It's not going to be spoken about, really.''

So says the brother who still talks about that slam dunk back in high school.

matthew.kredell@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, 7 boxes

Photo:

(1) P. MANNING

(2) E. MANNING

Box:

(1) KEY STAT

(2) WHO'S HOT

(3) WHO'S COLD

(4) ROOKIE WATCH

(5) NOTES

(6) NFL WEEK ONE CAPSULES

- Dave Goldberg - AP

(7) DAILY NEWS/CBS 2/KCAL 9 SPORTS CENTRAL POWER RANKINGS

- Billy Witz
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 10, 2006
Words:1052
Previous Article:LUNCHEON TO HONOR LOCAL OFFICERS.
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