So when I saw that Reilly had decided to interview the family Manning as his gimmick going into the NFL draft (and as his way to spend the half-hour he works each week), I had to take a look.
Former Saints quarterback Archie Manning, left, with sons Eli and Peyton at the 2004 NFL draft.
It’s no good talking about the NFL draft unless you’ve talked to the first family of the NFL draft — the Mannings of New Orleans. Dad Archie went second overall (1971) and the two sons (Peyton and Eli) went first overall (1998 and 2004). That’s a bigger draft family than the Busches of St. Louis.
Oh, Rick, you are truly the king of references… it was between going with beer or “a bigger draft family than Pvt. Ryan’s.” As always, you made the right call.
I corralled all three of them in one room in Vail, Colo., not long ago. It was a chance for the two brothers to give each other mountainous piles of crap while poor Archie, as usual, officiated.
Poor Archie… his kids are just so rambunctious! He’s the Mike Brady of football, always trying to separate Peter and Bobby, but most of all keeping them away from Greg so that he can walk for another day.
Q: You guys were both overall No. 1s. Are you embarrassed to be sitting here with a guy who only went second?
Peyton: Yeah, a little. Plus, Mom went fourth one year in the CFL draft.
Eli: When I was at Ole Miss, I called my dad up one time and said, “Hey, Dad, have you ever looked at your stats here? They’re not very good.”
It’s nice to see that great Peyton humor… boy that SNL sure was funny, wasn’t it? And it’s great to see that great Eli bitterness, after having been allowed to use his brothers’ used jocks as superhero masks for years before being clued in.
Q: Peyton, what do you remember about the Colts taking you?
Peyton: I remember talking to Mr. Irsay [Colts owner Jim] at the combine, and saying, “Tell me what you’re going to do.” And he said they’d tell me in March. They were making it so dramatic, not making up their mind [between he and QB Ryan Leaf of Washington State]. And finally I was in his office one day and I said, “I would like to play for you but if you don’t pick me, I will kick your ass for the next 15 years.”
[Archie slaps his forehead]
The Mannings… the family where slapstick never dies. Plus, what are the odds that Peyton really calls him Mr. Irsay in front of anybody but the media? I’m guessing it’s more like “Hey You”.
Q: Who’s the best athlete of the three?
Archie: Me. [laughing] I could outrun some guys in my day.
Eli: Me … I don’t know. We’re always trying to prove that. I remember one time, I was 17 and Peyton was 23 maybe. He was in college. He was home and we were playing one-on-one [hoops]. And it was just basically tackle basketball. Nobody got an open layup. And whoever lost didn’t talk the rest of the day. So he had to go back to college and we promised to have a rematch. So the next time he came home, we went out there for the rematch and the goal was gone. Just gone. Dad took it off the wall. Mom made him.
The Manning driveway flowed freely with sobs and tears that day, my friends.
Q: Peyton is five years older. Did Eli ever get to kick his ass?
Peyton: Absolutely not. But he gave me a killer wedgie once. Got me up against a wall on a golf trip. He had all the leverage. But it wasn’t an atomic wedgie.
A 35-year-old man still differentiating between types of wedgies.
Q: What about in that ESPN commercial you’re all in? [Peyton and Eli roughhouse at the back of a tour of ESPN, much to Archie’s disapproval.] Looked like the two of them beat each other up pretty good in that.
Archie: The director says to me, “OK, what would you do if your boys were screwing around like that?” And the boys both said, “We’d get The Look!” So he called action and I got it in one take! People come up to me all the time now and go, ”That’s the exact same look my dad used to give me!”
Peyton: It was so not fair. People go, “You got to kick Eli and it looked like it hurt him.” But I only got one take. I had to get 10 wet willies from Eli. And an ear infection.
The ESPN studio flowed freely with sobs and tears that day, my friends. But at least it wasn’t the kind of infection Peyton had to worry about giving Jeff Saturday, which must have been a nice change
Q: Eli, you can relate, right?
Archie: Oh, yeah he can. When Eli was 12 and Peyton was 17, Peyton needed somebody to throw to. Cooper had gone off to college [where he was a standout receiver at Ole Miss until a degenerative spine problem ended his career] and Peyton needed to work on his throws. It was kind of comical.
Ummm… Cooper had to stop playing football because of a spinal condition between high school and college… solid reporting as usual, Riles.
Archie: Eli’s gotten everybody back. He’s a prankster. He can turn cell phones into any other language in about seven seconds. He’ll do it to complete strangers too. Chinese, Japanese.
Peyton: Yeah, he’ll borrow some perfect stranger’s phone. “Hey, can I borrow your phone?” And he’ll change it to German. All the settings are gone. Everything.
Archie: And if you’re on a golf trip with him, don’t go to bed first. You will wake up with Sharpie marks all over you.
Peyton: Oh, yeah, he’ll write across your forehead, color in your ears.
Eli: The best is to draw on the back of their calves, because they won’t know it until they’re on the golf course. They’re wearing shorts and people are going, “What’s that?” And it’s always some kind of inappropriate drawing.
Again… a 30-year-old man.
Eli: I remember after that catch, they went to replay. And I said to David [Tyree, the receiver], “Did you catch the ball?” And he goes, “Yes, yes I did.” And I said, “Don’t lie to me. You’re a Christian man, don’t lie to me.” Because I need to know what the situation is going to be as soon as possible. Are we going to have a third down? Are we going to have a first down? What? Because I’ve asked receivers, “Did you catch it?” And they’ll say, “Yes, absolutely I caught it.” And then I’ll look up at the replay on the scoreboard and the thing bounces three times before it even gets to him.
Poor David Tyree… makes the greatest (only) NFL catch of his life, and he’s got a southern-fried-douche yelling at him. At least it only happened once, David… that shit turned poor Marvin Harrison into a criminal.
Peyton: But you have to watch that [Tyree] play closely, because when he thought there was no way to get out of it, he was about to shovel it to his left guard!
Eli: Well, you get desperate. You’re looking for any white jersey. But when I saw the replay, I’m like, “Why is [guard Chris] Snee blocking no one five yards ahead of me?”
Peyton [sarcastically]: You should’ve passed it to him. Ya’ll still would have won.
Translation: I can’t believe my lack of clutch play and general pussyness means my untalented little brother is going to finish with as many Super Bowl wins!
Q: What did you think last season in the game with the Jets, when blood was just gushing from Eli’s head?
Peyton: That was overacting.
Eli: Those 12 stitches weren’t overacting.
Translation: Scoreboard… maybe you’d have more Super Bowls if you weren’t such a fucking pussy!
Eli: Late hits bug me.
Peyton: Yeah, guys get called for late hits and they get fined —
Eli: Fifteen hundred dollars! These guys have millions! Fifteen hundred dollars? That’s nothing!
Peyton: And they can write it off on their taxes! It’s like, “I’m so glad that you can write off my broken rib, buddy.”
Translation: Now that I’m getting older, I don’t always have time to fall to the ground fast enough. Therefore, I will bitch that the rules that are already ruining football aren’t strict enough
Q: How do you feel about all the new research about concussions that’s coming out?
Peyton: They have these new [brain] tests we have to take. Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures. And they do it with words, too. Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words. Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play. So I just try to do badly on the first test.
[Archie slaps his forehead again.]
Nothing funnier than your son circumventing a mental health test. Of course, Peyton is happy complain about getting hit, but will hurt the chances of doctors keeping him from permanent damage. For him, it’s all about avoiding the owwies. Dear God, if you could see your way clear to making him a Muhammad Ali-level vegetable in ten years, I will devote my life to the poor like Mother Theresa.
Q: Archie, let’s finish with you. You had this terrific college and pro career. And then you have three star sons, two of whom grow up to be Super Bowl MVPs. Does it ever just stop you in your tracks?
Archie: You know, I said to [Olivia] one night — I was in bed, reading something about the boys in a magazine — and I said, “Honey, we’ve been married 35 years now. Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, think you and I would have children that would do these amazing things?”
And she said, “Archie, very seldom are you in my wildest dreams.”
Let’s just say that Olivia had to tell people she fell down the stairs for a while.