(SportsNetwork.com) - Life is rarely fair and that's exemplified at any Manning family reunion where baby brother Eli can show off his two Super Bowl rings, one more than his much more accomplished older sibling Peyton.
It's almost laughable to compare the two as players.
Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history en route to his record fifth MVP award and coming off perhaps the best statistical season in NFL history, breaking multiple NFL passing records, most notably the single-season marks for touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477), while piloting an offense which led the league in scoring (37.9 points per game) and totaled the most points (606) in league lore.
Eli, on the other hand, is an above-average signal caller fresh off a miserable year in which he threw a league-high 27 interceptions, completed just 57.5 percent of his passes -- an egregious number in today's pass-happy NFL -- and finished with a dismal passer rating of 69.4 for the 7-9 New York Giants, a team which placed a Super Bowl countdown clock in its own locker room and fancied itself as a legitimate title contender before the season began.
"I think Peyton's already created his own legacy," Eli said on a conference call earlier this week. "He's played at a very high level for a long period of time and he's overcome injuries and obviously set numerous records and been on a lot of playoff teams.
"I don't think (his legacy is) something that he's worried about. There will always be arguments about who is the greatest. I think if you're in that argument, if you're one of the names thrown around in there, I think you've already created a pretty good legacy. I don't think he's worried about that. He's a competitor and he wants to win championships, because that's what your job is as a football player, to win games. I think that's all he's thinking about."
Whatever Peyton is thinking about, perception is reality and the tag of coming up small in big games has haunted him since his college days at the University of Tennessee, where former Florida coach Steve Spurrier used to pile on Manning and the Volunteers by saying, "You can't spell Citrus without UT," a reference to the Vols' inability to get to the more high-profile Sugar Bowl, often settling for the Citrus Bowl.
Eli, meanwhile, is regarded as a "big-game player," an athlete who ups his production when the stakes get higher.
Hindsight says the Giants' dream of playing in another Super Bowl in their own backyard was nothing more than a fairytale, derailed by a perfect storm of injury and ineptitude.
To be fair to Eli, his offensive line in 2013 was awful for most of the season and his running game non-existent, but it's hard to imagine his big bro ever falling to the kind of depths he did, even with a similar supporting cast.
That said, it's Eli with the two Super Bowl titles and Peyton trying to catch him on Feb. 2 when the AFC champion Denver Broncos face off against the NFC kingpin Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2 in MetLife Stadium, Eli's home field.
"It is pretty unique that each of us, that I got one in Indianapolis (while Peyton was with the Colts) and he's trying to get one playing in a Super Bowl in New York," the less experienced Manning said. "I guess it's pretty ironic."
Although Eli probably can't offer Peyton all that much when it comes to the mechanics of the position, perhaps he can offer a different and valuable perspective on the big stage.
"Obviously, I know what it's like with the Super Bowl and a lot of people are trying to figure out if they're coming to the game, so I'm trying to take some of that stress off of him and help manage some of those things," Eli said. "That way, he can focus on work and getting the game plan. I've kind of been in touch with him about that."
Eli also can offer an expert's view of MetLife Stadium and the Meadowlands, which has always been a bit tricky because of its placement in the middle of a swamp and strange cross winds. MetLife is not as a difficult as the old Giants Stadium in that regard, but it remains a far more difficult place to judge than most NFL stadiums, almost an East Coast version of Candlestick Park.
"I might have a few things for him, but I don't want to reveal that because I don't want to give that to (Seattle quarterback) Russell Wilson," Manning said. "Any tips wind-wise, I will tell him in private.
"(MetLife) probably is a little bit more neutral (than Giants Stadium was). The old stadium definitely did have a specific end zone and corner you really did not want to throw into if it was going to be a windy night. I know it's going to be cold. I obviously don't know what the wind conditions are right now, but if it is one of those windy days, there are a few little things that you can give, but it's definitely not as bad as the old stadium."
Like many others, the younger Manning admits significant inclement weather conditions could favor the Seahawks' top-ranked defense and strong running game, but he doesn't believe it will decide the contest.
"Peyton has been in Denver this year and played outside in a lot of cold games," he said. "I think obviously if it were to snow or be very windy, it could be a disadvantage to the Broncos, just because how much they like to throw the ball, compared to Seattle and their running game. For the most part, it's really going to be the best team that is going to win, whoever plays the best football that day. It's going to come down to that and execution. The weather isn't going to decide the game."
When it comes to the Seahawks, though, Eli may want to keep his thoughts to himself. The younger Manning threw for just 156 yards and was picked off five times back on Dec. 15 when Seattle invaded MetLife Stadium and whitewashed the Giants, 23-0.
"I'll obviously give any information that I have to him (about the Seahawks), in our preparation, our game plan, just kind of different things I saw watching film and different tips," Manning said. "I will try to give him everything that I can give him to make his preparation better, any tips or things that I saw. If he has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them and help out in any way."
In the end, though, Eli will be spending Super Sunday the same way as 160 million or so others -- as a fan.
"Obviously, we'll be rooting hard and I'm excited for him, watching these last two playoff games and playing well and hopefully he can continue to do that," Eli said. "You know what it means to win championships and how hard he's worked. I'm obviously very proud of him and I'm hoping he can go out there and play well and the whole team, the Broncos, can play well and get a win."