The Manning Family is arguably one of the most iconic families when it comes to producing the best talent, it started with Archie Manning who played 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly for the New Orleans Saints and later on for the Houston Oilers (now Texans) and the Minnesota Vikings. He is a member of the Saints Hall of Fame and is in the team’s ring of honor as well. His children continued in his footsteps, with Peyton Manning, being drafted first overall after a stellar high school and college football career. He went on to play 18 seasons in the NFL with his best seasons being in Denver. He is a 2 time Super Bowl Champ and has won 5 MVP awards, these are just the highlights of his career as summarizing his stats would require a dedicated post.
The second in line was Eli Manning, he had himself a good NFL career but not as great as Peyton, he won the Super Bowl twice and he beat Tom Brady in one of the two so he gets extra points for that, and he won the MVP in both those games as well. He did not win any regular-season MVP awards. Eli recently appeared on Cam Newton’s podcast to talk life after football, he revealed how having generational talents like his brother and a legend like his father impacted his football career and buried him under a mountain of pressure.
“I tried to keep things simple”: Eli Manning on his approach to getting over the pressure that he was up under
It is natural for the children of any legendary player to be faced with pressure, imagine being the son of Michael Jordan or Tom Brady for instance, how are you supposed to be better than them or even as good as them for that matter, what they have achieved in their professional careers is nothing short of an anomaly, yet you will have fans and critiques alike expecting you to be special as well.
Eli was put in a similar situation, he was always known as Peyton’s brother or Archie’s son, the QB shares his story on how this situation made him feel, “You know it’s tough at times, it’s not something you ask for. For me, all of a sudden, I’m a sophomore in high school and I’m starting to play a little football but I’m still the son of Archie Manning who played his career around the South (in New Orleans) then Peyton’s a junior at the University of Tennesse, up for a Heismann Trophy. I just want to be a kid playing high school football with my friends,” Manning said believing that the pressure mounted on him without doing anything. He was suddenly surrounded by the media and it was not something he liked.
For a kid that age, he managed to keep his calm and just stick with a smaller circle of friends. “I just tried to keep things very simple and tried to keep things tight and have a small group of friends. I tried not to worry about things that were out of my control.” Manning then proceeds to share how after Peyton got drafted as the top pick, things got worse for him.
“All of a sudden, he’s the first pick in the NFL draft, and in high school, he’s the Gatorade player of the year. If I tried to be better than him it would drive me crazy because how can you be better than the first pick? How can you be better than all these things that he was doing? I just said ‘I’m gonna work hard, I love playing sports, I love playing football, I love being with my friends and competing, and I’m gonna do everything possible to go win games and be at my best.” Manning stated that he did his best to not chase his brother and try to beat him. He worked on his own legacy and focused on his own game instead.
“If I’m not as good as him or fall short in different ways then I’m gonna let that crush me and make that seem like I’m a failure,” Eli concludes. His philosophy was simple and very mature, he accepted his limitations and that he may not be as good as his brother but he is a different person and his only job was to give it his best and stay satisfied with whatever the result was.